Moon Earthshine

Portion of photo by Adrian J Scott
Click for full image

Traveling south on the train, crossing the border at twilight, I look out at the saltwater bay and allow the purplish clouds to work on my imagination.

Above a cloud that looks like as a lost dog I am surprised to see the thinnest of crescents, its appearance almost accidental.

Its shape a creamy lopsided smile of bemusement, this dimmest of moons is easily outshone by the nearby Evening Star, this day before Equinox. Its smile not uncaring of troubles it sees, the moon is quietly aware that all this will pass.

An hour or so later there’s full darkness. The moon has kept up with the train and it now reveals something before imperceivable: the slightest of illumination on its darker portion. Not a spilling of light from the skinny crescent but rather earthshine, a bouncing-back to the moon from the unseen sunlit parts of Earth.

An interaction, cosmological and spiritual, of celestial bodies, the moon silently moves through its cycles. Passively illuminated by direction and reflection, it inspires those who see it, but cares not whether it is observed.

Earth possesses a single natural satellite and holds it captive, hundreds of thousands of miles away. This is not without cost, however: the tides, naval and emotional (perhaps they are the same) come from that captive heavenly body.

And just at that moment of clarity, a new cloud obscures the moon. Fade to black. I am left to wonder, now my own lopsided smile of bemusement on my face.


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