It’s our 50th wedding anniversary this week, so perhaps it’s no wonder that I have the Moon in mind. The Moon has always been a symbol of romance and half a century of togetherness has taught us that romance is key.
We held hands and walked
Under that silvery light
Was it long ago?
So many songs have been written about earth’s celestial appendage, so many poems, myths and legends, that I lose count. When I was growing up in Japan, folk tales abounded with talk of the Moon … badgers and foxes worked their magic for good or ill under the full Moon; princesses and brave heroes prospered or perished under its silver light. Countless lovers have spooned under the June Moon or floated down Moon River or grumbled, like Lord Byron, that he would “No longer go a-roving by the light of the Moon.”
There are more sinister tales as well… for doesn’t the werewolf howl when the Moon is full? There is also Artemis the goddess who wreaks vengeance on those why spy on her mysteries and, closer to home, there’s that huge, copper Halloween Moon to delight small ghost and ghoulies.
I’ve often wondered how the Moon came to settle in our skies, and recently I learned that proponents of the ‘impact’ theory among the savants think that it was formed about 4.5 billion years ago when the Earth had a collision with a massive object. I have tried to imagine this: an immensity smashing into our Earth… a gush of raw materials erupting from our wounded planet into space. It’s believed by a preponderance of scientists that this ejected material became entrapped by Earth’s gravity and formed the Moon. Out of disaster, a new celestial body… that feeds my imagination even more than do the old myths and legends.
I have to admit, though, that as much as I like to gaze at our celestial sidekick, I wouldn’t want to go there. It’s tormented constantly by solar wind and moreover is cold, barren, and covered with powdery dust. But I can remember the day when Apollo 11 landed, and how I watched Neil Armstrong step out of his spacecraft with a mixture of goosebumps, excitement and awe. And, yes, a niggle of envy for here he was stepping onto an extraterrestrial body while I remained earthbound! There is romance in being a pioneer even of a cold and desolate marble in the sky.
There are pioneers and pioneers. My husband would, I know, give his eye teeth to journey into the unknown and would cheerfully hop onto any spaceship. I myself have always maintained that I’d only be tempted to go exploring where no (wo)man has gone before when shelter and hot running water were available. Still, the writer in me was thrilled when it was learned that there might be water ice on the Moon. A future Lunar colony? The Moon as a jumping-off point to the distant planets and perhaps the stars? After all, today’s science fiction usually is tomorrow’s science.
Meanwhile, the Moon reigns serenely in the night sky. Perhaps not forever, though, for there is a theory that the lady of the night sky is slowly… very slowly… separating itself from Earth. In billions of years (I said the process was slow), it will have moved far enough from us to cause tremendous climatic changes that will, among other things, turn Las Vegas into a land where darkness and unendurable cold will reign for part of the year.
But for now, here is the evening sky. “Moon rise,” my husband says, and there I see it– the pale yellow disk that glows with light as it floats effortlessly over the horizon. And as we watch together, I forget about science and astronauts and space and even time, and again am lost in the beauty and romance of the Moon.
Under silver light
We hold hands, are young again…
This is Moon Magic.