“Let There Be Moonlight,” column for Dec. 1, 2015

If my mother, rest her soul, were living today, she would tell you flat-out, as she often told me, that at some point in my infancy, I was moonstruck. It would explain, she said, a lot about my nature.

I never knew for sure what she meant by it. She often said outlandish things that I’ve spent a lifetime trying to unravel. Who knows? Maybe one night, gazing up at the full moon, she dropped me on my head?

Whatever. I assure you she did not mean “moonstruck” as high praise. Whenever she said it, she’d wrinkle her nose as with other unpleasantries, paying bills, peeling onions, or clipping my grandmother’s toenails.

Moreover, she never called anybody moonstruck but me. It made me feel, not special, but different. In the South where I grew up, “different” was a polite term for “not belonging,” “strange” or “touched in the head.” I was all three.

But moonstruck? All right, I’ll tell you this. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with the moon. In my earliest memory, I’m lying in my crib on a bitter cold night watching the moon reach through the window to bundle me up in its long arms of light.

Have you ever been warmed by the moon?

As I grew older, when my cousins and I played chase in the dark, running barefoot through a pasture, the moon always seemed to follow me. Riding home half asleep in the back seat of the car, I’d look out the window and see the moon playing hide ‘n’ seek, winking at me through the trees.

And it wasn’t just the moon. The sun, the stars, the candles at church, the lamp by my bed, the glare of a TV, the dim bulb that gleamed on my grandmother’s porch _ light followed me, reached out to me, drew me close everywhere I went.

It felt a bit strange to be so singled out and sought after, but I found I rather liked it. A child who longs for attention will take it any way it’s offered, even from a distant beam of light.

Do you remember the first time you saw the moon’s face? I was 10 years old, sitting on the porch swatting mosquitoes, when I looked up and saw the moon rising over the mountain, big and round and golden as a baby’s head. I’d seen it full before, but somehow I’d never noticed the features of its face.

Suddenly there they were _ the eyes, the nose, the bow-shaped mouth. I could swear it was looking right at me as if to ask this question: What are you going to do about it?

“About what?” I said. “What am I going to do about what?”

The moon didn’t answer. It has asked me that question throughout my life. And I’ve never known what to say.

But here’s one thing I’ve learned: I am not alone. Lots of us are moonstruck. We are drawn to light, comforted by its glow, calmed by its grace and crazed, just a little, by its beauty.

Look around you. We’re easy to spot. There’s a gleam in the eye, a spark of mischief, a flash of curiosity, a lingering reflection of sunshine and starlight, moonglow and magic.

My husband is hopelessly moonstruck. My children and grandchildren, too. My brother is totally blind, but his eyes are full of light. Even my mother, in her latter years, got a little moonstruck before she died.

Look in the mirror. You might see that light shining in your eyes. I would bet on it. Light follows us all wherever we go.

Last night, I sat on a deck on the coast of California, watching a full moon work its magic on Monterey Bay and me. It came climbing over a ridge, through a tall stand of pines and stared down deep into my soul.

I wish you could’ve seen it.

Same eyes, same nose, same bow-shaped mouth.

And it still wants to know what we’re going to do about it.

Comments

  1. Mary Young says:

    Great story, as usual! You make my Sunday mornings. I have a moon story too. I’m another moonstruck person but I don’t get to see it as often as I like because we live in the mountains and are surrounded by trees. One stormy night I was out where I saw the full moon rising between two black clouds. Wonder of wonders a big forked bolt of lightening went from cloud to cloud right across the face of the full moon! It was amazing! That night the moon was lightening struck!
    I’d love to find a copy of your book. I also wish you could find the time in your busy life to write another.

  2. Beth Reeves says:

    I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your column in our local newspaper here in Decatur, Al. You are a wonderful Storyteller. I look forward to the next one.

  3. Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt - retired says:

    I like stars. I was a boom operator on a refueling tanker and part of my job was celestial observations for navigation. On night missions between observations I would look at the stars and at 35,000 feet of so they are so much clearer than on the ground. That has led to my favorite dreams – I’m laying outside on the ground looking at the stars are so beautiful and clear and I am looking out into the universe.

  4. Thank you for another lovely story. I have always been fascinated by the moon and stars. When I was little I tried to reach the stars by climbing on top of our tool shed. Years later when the astronauts landed on the moon, I looked out our back door trying to see them. In college, I took astronomy. As a grandmother now, I still look into the heavens. One of my favorite movies is Moonstruck!

  5. Vanessa L says:

    There really is something beautiful about a full moon lighting up the night sky. Looking up at the glowing moon and twinkling stars in the midst of the dark universe gives me such a sense of peace. Thank you for sharing another glimpse into your life, both past and present!

  6. JoAn W says:

    Loved this. Just spent Thsnksgiving Weekend with my entire family at Carolina Beach in North Carolina , 16 of us, including my 97 year old mother to 3 year old grandson. we were all moonstruck. Two lovely nights with full, almost full moon rising over the ocean.

    Thanks for the reminder of the wonder of the skies.

    JoAn W
    Clemmons NC

  7. Harry Ferrell says:

    Thank you so very much for the pleasure you have afforded me through the years! I do so anticipate your writing that I can’t wait for the print version. You are elevated far above the mundane title of columnist, you are a “Storyteller!”

    Thanks,

    Harry Ferrell
    Fairfield, CA

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