The moon’s watching

Winter Trees

Earlier this evening I spied on the moon through the branches of the huge Maple tree in our yard. Now, when I’m here at my desk, wondering what on earth to write about, the moon is spying on me (M told me so just a minute ago).

What can I possibly write that the moon hasn’t already read?

What can I do but describe the cold blue-black night, the dying glow of the fires, the dogs lying like moored boats in a moonlit harbor, another load of dirty dishes piled in the sink, the stereo playing some piece of music I feel I know but can’t name, the moon sailing her orbit while we sail ours, the end of the day.

Same old story, says the moon in a comforting way. Time to turn out the lights, pull the night up to your chin, feel quiet and planted, like a Maple tree on a November night.

Winter Trees

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

–William Carlos Williams

52 Photos ~ Comfort and joy


Moon burst

Nextdoor Neighbor

There is comfort in the contours of a dog’s paw. The rough pads, separated by soft tufts of fur, curved to fit each other like matched puzzle pieces or continental plates. The dog flying effortlessly across an ice-glazed trail, the rhythmic clicking of nails on wood floors, the four paws collected in a bouquet bundle when he naps.

The flickery glow of the wood stove is an obvious comfort, both mentally and physically. All day long this week, I’m orbiting around that metal box, sticking as close as I can without scorching myself, feeding it stick after stick. The splinters are less comforting, but the price we pay.

A full hay barn, like a full wood pile, heating oil tank, or bank account, is a comfort. A worry deferred.

The pile of books to read is a comfort. A barrier against the dark and the cold, a plan for the long nights, anticipated escapes to others’ imaginations.

The moon, just beyond arm’s reach, neighborly yet remote, is a great comfort. You know I prefer light and warmth, but all the same, it’s hard to gaze lovingly at the sun. The moon, though, you can take it in, watch its phases, and realize, sometimes gradually, sometimes with a jolt, that you are not alone.

We here, riding this lush rock, are billions among billions, though all we generally see of our nearest neighbors are pinpricks of light on black velvet nights. The moon, though, constant companion, tells us we are in context of something else, and multitudes of something elses in this galaxy and the next and the next and the next.

It’s a comfort to find yourself in company on a long dark night.

And then to realize that all you know and have known, all you have loved, is contained here on this ball of dirt and rock and water. Everything you’ve read or seen. Every hand you’ve held. Every heart that has broken yours. Every note of every song you sang to yourself on your most miserable or most elated days. Everyone you’ve lost. It’s all here, conserved, blue and gauzy when beheld from the moon.

Last week, our friend Clyde made sugar on snow for an audience of children and me. I’d never seen it made before. I’d read about it, so I thought I knew what it was. But as she boiled the maple syrup, then drizzled it, gentle spoonful by gentle spoonful, onto the fresh collected snow, I knew I had no idea about this little alchemy. The way the syrup solidified, filigreed on the snow, the way the children, then I, dipped our forks in, spun them like spaghetti eaters, lifted the golden candy with flecks of snow to the light, swallowed the sweetness.

I have no idea what in the world I don’t know. And this, too, is a comfort.


These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

Blue dawn

Dark sunrise

I woke this morning to the dark.

“Woke” is a bit inaccurate, since it felt like I was awake more than asleep last night. Thinking. Those thoughts.

Five years since my mother died. Five years since that dreadful phone call from my father. Five years since I let that howl escape my throat.

In many ways, I feel that span of time as a whirl, the way a lot of us feel time: was that last week, last year, or ten years ago?

Tree, cloud, moon, star

But in other ways, I feel each minute. Each lost minute. I get a little weepy. And angry.

I see a gray-haired woman pushing her shopping cart at the grocery store and I wonder what she would have been like at 70, or 80, or even beyond.

I read about a friend going holiday shopping with her mother, or taking her mother out to lunch on her birthday, and I feel resentful.

I read a book she would have loved and know I just have to send it to her, and I feel surprised when I realize that I can’t.

I see women with their granddaughters, and I feel a longing.

Don’t even talk to me about Mother’s Day.

At 42, I was just learning to be a mother, and finally getting to know my own. We weren’t close when I was growing up. We didn’t have the typical mother-daughter relationship. That only began to grow later, when I was out of college and on my own. We crept closer over the years. We were just starting to figure it out.

I feel cheated.

If I let myself, I can travel quite far down that twisty bumpy road. But it’s a dead end.

I had, and have, a lot more than many people.

Who escapes this life without loss and grief? Is there anyone who doesn’t feel a bit cheated, at least in some way?

I got up this morning and it was dark, and then I saw that crescent moon hiding behind the maple branches.

Striped crescent

I went outside in the dark, no jacket, no socks, no gloves. My fingers were numbing and I was clicking the shutter button over and over, trying to steady myself, trying not to breathe.


There’s that moon. She’s gorgeous as ever. She’s out there in the dark, dark night, and in the bluing morning. She’s there, whirling in space by our side, even during the daylight when we can’t see her. She’s there when we search her out, round and full, slim and crescent, new and invisible, tugging at the water in us, making waves.

It’s going to be okay. It’s good to note these anniversaries. It’s good to cry, and then laugh. It’s good to feel loss when it means you’ve had something to lose.

It’s good to go out in the morning, breathe the cold air, be alive, and be part of the dawn.