the lace of the moon

the cat, with his insistent little pawing at the side of the bed, beckoned me at what i started to mutter was some godawful hour last night. one of those hours where there are not enough digits to fill the face of the red-numbered clock that keeps me cued in to my risings and fallings.

2 something, it was. and i would have been cranky the whole way down the stairs, around the bend, through the kitchen, to the door in the back.

but right away i noticed the spots.

oh lord, i thought. now what? now what is wrong with the world? there seem to be splotches of white all over the yard. it’s the pox in reverse.

but then i rubbed my eyes, just long enough to make sure what i was seeing was real, and not some foreshadowing of the opaque-ing of my eyeballs there at the back where the light does or does not get ushered in.

this was real, all right. this was moon lace. and until you’ve had a cat with a hankering for full moons, or a baby who howled through the whole lunar orbit, you’ve maybe not seen what i mean.

you might want to set your alarm. to the cat-scratching hour. then maybe set out a lawn chair. on your deck, in your grass, on the escape of your building, perhaps. climb to the roof if you have to.

but i’ll warn you right now: this experiment might not be quite so successful if the moon in your ’hood is hardly the brightest bulb in the street. if, say, ambulance shinings and cat-burglar flashlights get in the way of the light of the moon.

you might want to borrow the moon from one of your far-out-there friends. someone like me. who lives where the moon gets its due. which was not quite the no. 2 reason i moved here, but, gee, seeing all the free entertainment i get, it sure was a bargain.

okay, so now that you’re perched, now that it’s 2 in the morning and you’re out there in your jammies, do not look up in the sky. that’s not where this show is.

oh, all right, if you must. but don’t dawdle. okay, see it? that there is the full harvest moon. but really, class, i’d like to direct your attention to the ground.

see them there puddles of white? it is not some oozy infection. it is, as i told you already, if you were listening, paying attention, it is the lace of the full harvest moon.

and it is something. beats chantilly, far as i care.

it is full-strength moonbeams, people, nipped and tucked by the leaves and the boughs on the trees. where the beams are not blocked by the shadows, there spills the light.

it makes you suck in your breath. it makes you think, what if i missed this? i wonder what else in the world is unannounced beauty? there were no ads, no spots on tv. no billboards along the expressway. tune in, they might have said, you won’t want to miss this.

not a word whispered. just a beautiful breathtaking something draped all over my yard. my very own grass and my garden dappled in inside-out shadows.

so, of course, there at the door with my hand on the knob, tapping my toe for the cat who is now mamby-pamby about going outside, i am not sated. staring through glass is hardly enough.

i was one of those kids, must have been, who, back before kindergarten, didn’t stand at the water table and just watch it. i’m sure if they’d yet invented a water table–or its cousins, the rice table, pasta table, sand table, marble table; you get the drift–i dove right in. got my dress soaking wet. right down to my sweet mary janes.

same with this moon lace. i didn’t care what the clock said, or that i was wearing my stripey pajamas. i opened the door, and along with the cat, out i pranced. leapt around like a kook under the moon. which, come to think of it, is just what i was. no simile about it.

leapt from white splotch to white splotch. tried to take pictures.


seems i do not have what it takes to take filigreed moon light. so i took the cheap shot. point and click. hard to miss that ol’ moon up there in the trees. and it did set the mood. more or less. maybe less.

oh, and that’s when the bush moved. holy cow, i jumped practically right over that moon.

i never did see what it was, all lacy and white, with very big teeth, i assure you. i scrammed like a cat being chased. which, again, is hardly a simile. there was something furry, and it was rather unhappy.

i mean what wild thing expects his or her nap on the harvest moon night to be so rudely disturbed by a lady leaping through what she thinks is lace. when really it’s the same old, same old, that you, the sleeping wild thing, see month after month. what’s up with these two-legged leapers?

i’m pretty sure that’s what that critter was thinking, as it hurried me into the house.

then, once i was there, catching my breath, feeling my heart thump through my jammies, i do believe the whole backyard went back to its pre-moondance state of affairs. which means the wild things returned to their slumber. or their nosing through garbage. making midnight munchies of whatever littler, feebler creature they found. i’m telling you, it is wild out there.

and the moon, through it all, kept on shining.

now the very cool thing about the ol’ harvest moon, the one that’s starred–or should i say mooned?–in so many songs, is it is famous for being very big and very orange, early on in the night. much earlier than my cat bothered to bother me.

so while i missed that part of the story, it is a continuing saga, a moon show with nightly installments. and for the next few nights it’ll shine big and orange and downright delicious just for you, too.

the reason is this: this moon rises just about the time of the sunset. something about the angle, and catching more of the sunbeams. the moon is a really big sponge, don’t you know.

so if you’d like a really fine show, you will again need to haul out your lawn chair. and head to a place where the moon comes over the edge of the world. this time you will want to keep your eye on the sky. and stay put; you have nothing to do. it’s just like waiting for a pop-tart to come from the toaster.

depends where you live, but somewhere around 7 o’clock chicago time, is when the pop-tart will pop.

so there is your homework. you can do either or both. or, as always, none. a lawn chair and snacks is all you will need. oh, and access to the sky. if you cannot see the sky from your house, then, a.) i am so very sorry, and b.) it won’t work.

i promise you, whatever you do, if you do anything at all, will be worth the trouble it brings you. while the moon shines, somewhere, night after night, it is not always the full harvest moon. and the lace that is out there, you will wish you could wear it.

sewn onto your jammies, perhaps.

you can now see for yourself what a little moon dancing does for the morning. and for reasons that wholly escape me, i have not even made coffee. maybe i had too much of it yesterday. who knows. but i do know that i’m wondering, did i have any company? was anyone else out leaping through dew-sodden grass? being chased by big-enough furry things? or for those of you who dwell in big cities, did anyone call the police because of you and your lunatic antics? who’s on for tonight? 6:56 central standard time. set your clocks. moon rises. lace hits around 2, i assure you.

and the happiest of birthdays, to a true harvest moon of a friend. she is bright and beautiful. if not orange. mes, with the most blessed september birthday, mwah. that’s a big kiss. as dear friend jan says….

last thing: the full harvest moon, as always, marks the start of sukkot, the great jewish harvest festival, where a sukkah, or shelter, is built, and all meals are taken outside. considering what hangs in the sky, it’s no wonder the very wise jews thought to create the original cafe al fresco. we too shall be dining by moonlight as much as we possibly can. amen to the moon….