The supermoon beckoned, there outside our window, hiding demurely in the shadow of the earth. We ventured out into the cool air after Katie was asleep, stood on the deck together with our camera and our tripod and our telescope and marveled at the wonder of this universe we inhabit.
We’re on the west coast, in hill country with trees that obscure the horizon, and there was a bit of cloud cover in the early evening hours, so we did not see her slow veiling, the way she slipped into darkness. By the time we could see her, by the time we made it outside, she was already beginning to escape her cover. Her lower edge winked out at us, playful and coy.
I tried to capture her, to record her beauty with my camera. It was little use. I don’t have the equipment to do a proper job of it; she moves too quickly, is too incredible a sight, for my consumer lenses to do justice to her. Still, I tried, using the timer to avoid any shaking from my pressing the shutter, whispering to Jonathan not to move for fear that the movement of the deck would show in the image.
Inbetween attempts, I looked at the sights he framed through the telescope: the edge of the moon, silhouetted against space, hanging like a model in a child’s diorama; next to her, stars, normally washed out by her brilliance but just visible with her in shadow; the line of light, its slow progress touching craters and valleys as it climbed her surface. My words do not capture the beauty of it, the way it stole the breath away, the way it made one feel small. Though this lack may be due to my clumsy command of language, I prefer to think it has more to do with the grandeur of space, of nature, of our tiny incompetence when faced with something so beyond ourselves.
Now, I sit, and I write, and I ponder. I’ll head to bed soon, climb under the covers here in my small house in a small corner of a small planet in a vast universe. I am content.
Sometimes, it’s good to be reminded of how very small we are.