It seemed big.
But when it comes in its full cookieish form, it always seems big.
I went out on ant patrol last night. Before I looked up, I knew what I would see. The light on the ground was almost as intense as my flashlight beam.
When I did glance, the moon almost startled me.
Full, yes. But something else. Almost as if it wanted to draw close enough to ally its talent in my small battle against natural instincts. Instead, helping me to find my own.
The moon is a unifier. I knew that somewhere on a Caribbean island, someone was looking up at the same moon. Or on a plaza in central Mexico. Or in a hot tub in Oregon.
For a moment, we pause. Look in awe. And know that we are sharing a moment of wonder. Looking at the jade rabbit. The witch gathering sticks. The old man with his lantern.
The size, of course, is an illusion. As artful as any David Copperfield conjury.
Last night the moon was in fact larger. Well, it was closer than usual and seemed larger. And tonight it will be closer still. Closer than it has been for two decades.
I could spend a lot of time talking about perigee and azimuth. But tonight will be a night of poetry, not science.
Go out and gaze on the face of that jolly old man. And remember you are not alone.
Or perhaps, read a bit of Billy Collins's Moon before you go out. Set the mood.
The moon is full tonight
an illustration for sheet music,
an image in Matthew Arnold
glimmering on the English Channel,
or a ghost over a smoldering battlefield
in one of the history plays.
It's as full as it was
in that poem by Coleridge
where he carries his year-old son
into the orchard behind the cottage
and turns the baby's face to the sky
to see for the first time
the earth's bright companion,
something amazing to make his crying seem small.
And if you wanted to follow this example,
tonight would be the night
to carry some tiny creature outside
and introduce him to the moon.
And if your house has no child,
you can always gather into your arms
the sleeping infant of yourself,
as I have done tonight,
and carry him outdoors,
all limp in his tattered blanket,
making sure to steady his lolling head
with the palm of your hand.
And while the wind ruffles the pear trees
in the corner of the orchard
and dark roses wave against a stone wall,
you can turn him on your shoulder
and walk in circles on the lawn
drunk with the light.
You can lift him up into the sky,
your eyes nearly as wide as his,
as the moon climbs high into the night.
Note -- The photograph is mine. The first time I have ever been able to catch the moon in any detail.