( A picture I took yesterday evening - Feb. 17th - as the time of the Leo Full Moon approached. It was so peaceful and beautiful. The moon was quite a bit larger in person. Wish I had been able to capture more of what I saw than what the photo captured. )
"Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree."
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The moon has always fascinated me, as has the night. I've always loved that portion of each day that begins at dusk. It's so peaceful. So inspiring. I've done some of my best creative work after the sun has gone down. The night time harbors such wonderful energies.
Since moving to Savannah about 2 1/2 years ago, I've rediscovered the glorious moon. Well, let me restate that. I think it's safer to say that I've developed more of a deeper connection with it. Prior to moving back to Georgia, I lived in California for about 18 years. Most of that time was spent in the Los Angeles Area. It's a happening place that doesn't roll up it's sidewalks at night. The activity of the city is a constant. A constant for me was how much I missed seeing stars. How much I missed enjoying the moon hanging in that vast blue-black expanse known as the night sky. The culprit? Smog. The thickest blanket of airborne muck I have ever seen and experienced. Anywhere. I was living under it...'in' it. No telling how much of that poisonous crud I inhaled over those years. The apartment I rented was in a rather old building, and it didn't have central air. To make it through the scorching hot summers, it was a must to keep the windows open so what few breezes that happened by would blow through. What also passed through the apartment were the smog particulates. They coated everything. Dusting was practically a daily event. I'm so glad I don't have to clean any more blackened window sills.
There was one particular L.A. night that I was given a glimpse of the glowing celestial bodies up there. It was during the big quake of...1993, I think it was. It is known as the Northridge Quake. It happened in the early hours of the morning, and I was sleeping soundly. With a big jolt my bed began to hop and shake. Pictures slid down the bedroom walls, the sound of shattering glass tinkling below the rumble of the earth. A transformer atop a light pole by the street out front flashed and popped, causing a strobe effect in my room. Struggling to my feet, I headed to the small hallway at the center of the apartment that connected my bedroom, bathroom, and living room. Just as I reached the connective space, there was a big BOOM of a jolt and the intensity of things picked up. Stuff continued to crash in my apartment. I looked back and forth, all forms of light seemingly extinguished. The only hint of any light source however dull came from the sliding glass doors that lead out to my small balcony. Using my hands as 'feelers', I probed around in front of me as I made my way to the closed curtains. It wasn't the smartest thing to do as I was barefoot. I stepped on something cool and slick...leaves to one of the big houseplants. Then it stopped. The earth stopped moving. For the moment, anyway. The building continued to creak and pop a bit, and I could feel it softly swaying in the aftermath. The muffled sounds of voices floated through the open windows. My neighbors were out and about. As fast as I could I rummaged for one of the flashlights I kept handy (any resident of earthquake prone California would do well to have one or two in every room of their home). Flashlight in hand I made quick work of finding my glasses (I can't see a thing without them), threw on some jeans, and rushed out the front door. (note: All of this happened in a matter of...it had to be no more than five minutes. The bulk of that time being the duration of that initial quake.) At that moment, I was feeling that it would be safer outside than in. A number of my neighbors concurred, one being so freaked out by the scary incident to run outside in the buff. That was pretty funny. They were standing behind a bush, too scared to go back in to retrieve something to put on. One of the other neighbors gave them a blanket to wrap up in. As we collected by the front stairs of the building, there was an excitement about the whole thing. One observation was unanimous. It was pitch dark in L.A., and we were all chilly. A number of us headed back in to put on shoes and more cover from the cool night air.
Walking back into the living room with the beam from the flashlight was astonishing. The floor was covered with all kinds of 'rubble'. Most looked intact. The shelving unit had been filled with lots of books, so those weren't breakable. Some breakable items did fall, but miraculously nothing broke except for glass in picture frames. The only real messy-mess were the potted houseplants. I took great care to not tread on the spray of potting soil strewn across the carpet. The building shook slightly here and there. Was to be expected after a shaker like the one we had. Again, I was only inside for a few minutes time when I headed back outside. Just as I put my hand on the doorknob, my phone rang. It was my mother. She had just seen on the news that a big earthquake had rocked the Los Angeles area. "Yes, one did. I'm on my way outside." How big was it? Am I okay? Is there any damage? The room began to rattle again, the wall size shelving unit squeaking loudly with the motion. "I gotta go, mom." She started to chat. "Aftershock, mom. Gotta go."
I dashed out the door and down the stairs.
Heading back to the area of congregation, I could make out most of the neighbors standing around in various stages of wakefulness. Flashlight beams danced around the group, the murmurs and laughs of conversation filtering over to me. I remember stopping by the wall that ran up the side of the building, and registering just how dark it was...L.A. was in blackout. Not something one sees every day. The distant thump of helicopters could be heard. I had no doubt that there would be plenty of those flying overhead, scoping out for wrong-doers. They were always doing that anyway (I lived in West Hollywood, and it always sounded like downtown Beirut with the constant nightly helicopters). Then I felt the need to stretch, and did so. It would be the first time I had looked up since coming outside. I was mesmerized. Stars. The thick, bright blanket of gorgeous stars. It was like seeing them for the first time. I can remember so vividly how beautiful they were to me in that moment. I couldn't remember seeing stars in that number or at that brightness since I had left Georgia years before. It's interesting how much a thick layer of smog and the bright burning lights of a vast city can mask the presence of something so impressive and huge as the night sky. I feel sorry for anyone that has grown up in a big city, and has never witnessed something as beautiful as a cloudless night sky. Like the night skies I see now. Like the night skies of my youth...
I grew up in Georgia. Savannah has marked my return to this southern state. Both of my parents spent their childhoods in Tennessee. My father was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. My mother was born in Tucumcari, New Mexico, but she and my grandparents would spend the bulk of her growing up years in Nashville. While I was still quite young, one of the houses we lived in was a big two-story farm house with a barn. It was in an area called Norcross, and at that time it was pretty rural. I have been told that in recent years the area is now quite built up, but the house I once lived in is still there and has been made a historical landmark. Pretty cool. (Hmmm...Wonder if the Bachelor Buttons I used to pick along the wall by the dirt road are still there?) Some of my most vivid memories of life at that house have to do with the night time. Swinging on the swing set. Trying to get so high that I could reach out and touch the sky. Chasing lightning bugs. Lying in the cool summer grass, and trying to locate the Dippers. That sky was so wide. So magical. The symphony of crickets lulling me to a place of peacefulness. Of serenity. I quickly grew to love the sight of the earth around me illuminated with the beams of light radiating from the moon, that nightly reflector of the sun. The breezes, smells, sounds, and shadows of the night. A wonderfully mysterious and exhilarating world watched over by a moonlit sky. My parents divorced while we were living in that house. Later, my dad would own a farm in Duluth, Georgia. I would create some memories of the moon and the stars there, too. The night time of the summer. Lying in the grass in shorts and a t-shirt, feeling the green blades cool my skin against the heat. The star filled sky that hangs above the quiet solitude of a farm is more beautiful than I can ever properly articulate. No streetlights. No traffic. No strip malls. Just trees, land...life in one of it's purest forms.
I have had some flash back moments here on the island. Leisurely drives to explore and snap photos has become a favorite activity of mine. Most times I've ventured out solo during the day. One of my few night time exploratory drives was at Christmas this past year. Glenn and I went on a Christmas light hunt. It was a couple three weeks before Christmas, but I was pretty sure we would find some early lighting displays in some yards. Indeed we did. In regards to businesses, there aren't a lot of them in our neck of the woods. Most of the island is residential and a bit of it quite rustic. There is a main road that circumnavigates a good deal of the island, and that has become my basic route. That's where we headed. There aren't any streetlights out here. The bulk of the isle is extremely dark. When we were on the far side of the island looking for holiday lights I looked up. Stars. The blanket of stars from when I was young. It was still there. I may not have been in the same spot...the same location...but it was there. It was like running into an old friend that I hadn't seen in years.
I love going for walks, especially at night. Each month at the full moon is my favorite time to go out, but with the skies we get here in the deep south a fingernail moon is fine, too. During the time I lived in California, I always knew I would eventually move back to Georgia. I missed so much about it. The trees, the people. But looking up at that celestial sky is all I need to do to remind me I'm home.