Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue moon blues

This is not science, no matter what NASA says.

This is about folks who miss regularly spectacular events such as the ever-changing moon phases getting excited because a "full moon" happens twice within an artificial division of time. Turns out we create even bigger, vaguer excitement if that month happens to mark the culturally designated new year.

The word "month" comes from menses, an old word from an older language. "Menses"comes from the same old word. Whether menstrual cycles were tied to the moon before artificial light changed our culture is not clear, though women may be more likely to ovulate during the full moon.

Many critters remain romantically tied to the moon: grunions, newts, and coral have kept their ancient pact with natural cycles.

Thomas Edison allowed us sever our ties to the moon; that we continue to do so is our choice.

Ultimately, what you do with the choices you have today, what you do with this moment, defines who you are. We have years, decades, centuries as constructs in our heads, but we can only act in the moment. This one.

It's all we ever had, despite our tongues that confuse what we create ("blue moons" and calendars) with what exists in the natural world, a huge chunk of matter revolving around the Earth, affecting our tides, and perhaps our bodies.


If you believe tonight's blue moon is news, you need to get reacquainted with our gravitational neighbor. You can pretend to do this by looking at the Farmer's Almanac, or go high tech and download a moon phase widget.

Or you can step outside and look up. Tomorrow night, do the same. A week from now, look up again. Two weeks from now, you'll need to look during the day if you hope to see the moon.

Do this for a month, for a year, for a lifetime, and you will learn, as Robert Frost knew, that time is "neither wrong nor right" for those of us "acquainted with the night."

Forget Happy New Year! Time is in our heads, and you only get a few dozen New Years in your adult life.

Start celebrating Happy New Moment!, an infinite string of "nows" celebrated by everything in the natural world.

The photo is by Tom King, taken October 2003 and lifted from the NASA website.
The Robert Frost lines were taken from his "Acquainted with the Night," New Hampshire, 1923.


Unknown said...

I'm dissapointed. I was hoping this post would be about Hefeweizen.

doyle said...

Dear John,

That "Blue Moon" is orange juice flavored beer made by Coors, spiked with coriander.

Not saying it's all bad, but if I were going to write about hefeweizen, I'd write bout hefeweizen.

I may start a series on home-made ales, though--plenty of science in that!

Unknown said...

So true! As far as "name brands" I'm partial to Widmer, but there is a local microbrewery here in AZ that I love.

As far as brewing from home, not so sure that would be too smart.

Unknown said...

I was informed Blue Moon was a "chick" drink because it has fruit in it. Well, at least scurvy won't be a problem!

doyle said...

Now if anybody actually gets past the title....

Unknown said...

I did. I read the post first before the comments. I was just trying to fit in. :)

I linked this article to my blog - hope that's cool.

Kathryn J said...

I always follow the moon cycle despite living in one of the cloudiest cities. I still get excited about Blue Moons even though, as you said, the calendar is an artificial construct. The moon phase widget is cool!

I did use the event as an excuse to buy Blue Moon beer which I like but never ever ever let them add a slice of orange. I have the same reaction to lime with my Dos Equis. Beer is beer and punch is punch.

Happy New Year! I am grateful for your blog and wish you nothing but the best for the next 13 moon cycles and beyond.

doyle said...

Dear KCL,

I figured out who you are via clever sleuthing skills--I am thrilled to be linked to your blog, but don't young'uns read your blog? I don;t want to upset the lambs with the occasional glimpses of doom here.

(I love your blog--I will be linking to it shortly.)

Dear Kathryn,

I lose my grip on the moon at times, not sure why, but get reset when high tide rolls around 6 PM here.

(Any beer that is associated with adjuncts makes me wonder about the beer--throwing a lemon in a mediocre but well-advertised beer may raise your coolness in a chic bar but disqualifies you from your local zymurgist society.)

Unknown said...

I didn't pay attention to moons until I had kids. Let me rephrase that. I'm sure I paid attention to moons when I was a kid, too. But it took my own children to get me to stop, breath the dry air and look up into the sky.

(I apologize that I use your blog so frequently to process my own journey through fatherhood. Strange, huh?)

I remember hearing that "lunatic" meant insanity relating to the phases of the moon. Others tell me that "lunatic" referred originally to people who followed the moon.

Either way, it's we're becoming more insane as a society when we are no longer lunatics.