Worries & Worm Moons

The evening was a gentle spring one. My friends and I walked on into the evening, as the full moon rose in splendor on one side, while the sun set with elegance on the opposite side. The Worm Moon, as the full moon in March is called, was exceedingly beautiful against the spring evening as we walked on.

Though this time of year seems to signal that all is well with the world, there are spots in the trying world as we make our way through it. Life is full and with a full life comes a good helping of worries. We walked on swapping tales and confiding the worries of life that seem ubiquitous.

Somehow, the worries seem to reduce in size in the shared experience of it all. Just in the acknowledgement of it. It reminded me of the marvelous children’s book, Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival.

In the book, Ruby is a happy child who loved to explore and be herself. 

Until one day when she finds a worry. 

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The book talks beautifully about the concept. How the worry stays with her, and seems to grow in presence and size though no one was able to see it. It was there with her in the classroom, on the swing, and even occupied half the school bus. 

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It is a beautifully pictured concept with the worry inching in everywhere till poor Ruby is unable to be happy at all.

Then, one evening at the park, she finds a boy sitting alone and a worry looming over him. She goes over and they share their worries and talk about it.

“As the words tumbled out, Ruby’s Worry began to shrink until it was barely there at all.

Soon, both of their Worries were gone!”

It is a simple tale of friendship and worries shared, and yet the book captures it all in so beautiful a manner. You wonder and marvel yet again at the profundity of childrens’ books. 

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That evening as the worm moon rose and sprinkled its silvery little sparkles over the lakeside, the same thing seemed to be happening to us in real life too. To nature, peace and friendship whispered the evening.

P.S: March Moon is also known by various names: Eagle Moon, Sugar Moon, Wind Strong Moon or even the Lenten Moon.

Article here: Full Moon in March

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The Pandemic Year

“Why don’t you pick out a children’s book from the ones stacked there?” I said nodding at the pile from the library.

The son picked out Our Great Big Backyard for us to read together. Written by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, and illustrated by Jaqueline Rogers, the book extols the beauty of the natural world around us. It is about a girl, Jane whose family takes a wonderful road trip across the United States making several stops along the way at the magnificent national parks. Jane is very reluctant at first, and fights with her brother missing her friends back home initially. But as the family makes their way from Everglades National Park in Florida to Yosemite National Park in California, Jane’s appreciation of the natural world expands.  She cannot wait to share the wonders of the natural world with her friends back home in their own backyard.

“Can you imagine last year this time, we were traveling all over the world?” I said, expressing shock at how soon our world changed for the n-th time since Covid-19 started

It was true. I had made several trips back to back in December 2019, and early January 2020. I remember feeling unmoored from Earth, somewhat dizzy in my speed of movement around the globe, and had felt a strange sense of being connected to the earth when I saw the spider’s web glinting in the winter dewdrops after the hours of flying. (I call it Tao)

It is a whole year since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. A year in which some people adjusted admirably to their changed circumstances, while many others found it much harder.  Life everywhere was shaken out of its steady state. 

The past year was the year in which we morbidly looked at the death rates on a daily basis, and adjusted to losses of family members, and friends to Covid-19. It was also the year in which humanity astounded us by developing a vaccine before the year was out

The vaccines are being rolled out to older populations and front-line workers, teachers etc. While there are variants of the virus, there is already talk of returning to work, normal functioning etc. Many schools have resumed in-person instructions. 

This past year, Covid-19 has made everyone take pause and tread slower. Travel plans are seldom made, and even then, hopefully, are made considering crowds, infection and exposure. Most folks I know have turned an appreciative eye to what lies close by though. How many years the trees near us have had the same flowering in spring and fall, only to be barely noticed by us? Yet these past few months, the enjoyment of it has been greater. 

I feel like a renewed appreciation for Thoreau as he observed the intricacies of nature in Walden Pond. For this long, I hadn’t noticed how the moon rises later and later during the waning period, and earlier and earlier during the waxing period. (Or just the changes in when we see the moon) 

Full Moon Rising – March 2020

The Spring equinox means the days are getting longer, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, and the leaves are sprouting everywhere. I remember one night when I was wakened by the sound of the pelting rain. I watched the rain for sometime, but wascompletely awed the next day, for the rains had ushered in the leaves on the trees overnight. I swayed around the trees wondering how  it would have been to watch the leaves grow overnight. 

Like Jane, the protagonist in Our Great Big Backyard , many of us realized, maybe for the first time, the many wonders of the natural world around us. 

As the vaccines are rolled out, and life limps back to normal, I hope we put the trying period behind us, but also remember the good things of this phase. The CDC announced that those who have been vaccinated can now gather indoors safely.

The Girl Who Drank The Moon

I was dawdling one evening. Quite uncharacteristically I might add. For the evening walks I go on are brisk and filled with purpose: I focus on getting the day’s stresses out of my head and to appreciate the larger world around us. I arrive after these walks, therefore, a trifle breathless maybe, but mostly refreshed in mind and spirit. 

“Are you tired?”, asked a solicitous neighbor. 

I smiled and said truthfully that I had been very tired when I set out on the walk, and after briskly taking in the sights, was now rejuvenating myself in the magic of the moonlight. “Moon-Bathing!” I called it, and she gave me an indulgent smile knowing my leaning towards nature.

Sometimes, all it takes is a peek of the waxing moon, or the brilliant hues of the setting sun, or the clouds in the skies painting a thousand pictures for us, or a hummingbird flying in the light of dusk, or geese flying overhead with the light of the moon on their wings never failing to remind me of the beautiful song in The Sound of Music : These are a few of my favorite things.

All good things are wild and free. – Thoreau

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Other times, it is inordinately hard. I find it very hard to leave the village behind as Thoreau says. 

“I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.”  – Henry David Thoreau

I feel the Earth works doubly hard at these times. Always granting a little something extra by the end of it all to make up for the time lost in thought and worry. The wintry evenings of the past few days have been working hard at setting my mind at ease and helping the stresses of the day take flight into the unknown tendrils of the night. Lost in space, till I can grab newer positive strands from the cosmos and replace them consciously.

That evening that I was dawdling, had been one of these evenings. The light of the full moon shone through the clear dark skies, and I felt the strength of its benign light seep into my very being. The wintry skies have the magic of starlight, but the days when the moon is also at play, the nights feel vibrant with possibilities and magic.

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Maybe I was feeling poetic because of all the beautiful poetry in the book I had just finished reading. For those of you wanting a strong dose of magic, I strongly recommend The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill.  

“The heart is built of starlight 

And time.

A pinprick of longing lost in the dark.

An unbroken chord linking the Infinite to the Infinite.

My heart wishes upon your heart and the wish is granted.

Meanwhile the world spins.

Meanwhile the universe expands.

Meanwhile the mystery of love reveals itself,

again and again, in the mystery of you.

I have gone.

I will return.

Glerk” 

Kelly Barnhill, The Girl Who Drank the Moon

It maybe because of the waxing and waning of the moon, and the fact that we have only one moon, the sheer delight of catching a glimpse of its benign light in the evening skies is magic enough. The son, as regular readers knows, is a cosmologist and a curious wonderer at heart. One night, when he was a toddler, he asked me, “Imagine how it must be to take a walk on Jupiter, and you look up and see 64 moons in the sky.

Note: Jupiter has 79 known moons, and more are being discovered.

I suppose the magic of that sort of walk must be exemplified, but for now, I am grateful for a peaceful Earthly existence, with the ability to gaze and gain peace with the one moon we do have.

The Secret of the Wings

So many days in the past few weeks, I have tried desperately to snatch a moment here, and a moment there, in the midst of hectic, crowding days of meetings, expectations and deadlines. Sometimes, I peek out of the window in the precious moments between ‘Leave meeting’ and ‘Join meeting’ to catch a glimpse of the beautiful November days with its soft sunshine through the yellowing leaves, each leaf 🍁🍃🍂 taking its chance to show its beauty to the world in a grand flourish before it lets go. The evenings are dark by the time the little tiles on my meetings are gone, and I clutch my coat about me as I stare at the tiny ✨ dots lighting up the night sky instead. 

So, we went:  before the crowds hit the mountain resort for the Thanksgiving holidays, the husband worked his magic and found us a little house that was free for a couple of days only. 

All of the Californian plains that we traversed for the 100 odd miles was bursting forth with fall colors. The reds were particularly fetching against the browning hills. Traffic was very light, and as we started climbing the Sierra Nevada mountains, a nippiness crept into the air. It is the lunar waxing phase, and the moon was out early in the afternoon keeping us company as we climbed the mountains. The fall colors gave way to the snowy reaches, and soon, it was apparent that here, it was no longer Fall. Here it was Winter.

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The journey reminded me of the scene in the Tinker Bell movie where the warm fairies peek into the winter lands. The orange, yellow and the brilliant reds slowly gave way to evergreens and a world blanketed in snow. There is nothing half as marvelous as a sunny day with wispy clouds against the azure skies and a snowy backdrop. This was winter wonderland alright. 

Mulish as I was, I took off on a walk as soon as we reached our destination. I huffed and puffed up the steep hills, my lack of exercise clearly showing in the panting under the mask. I was grateful for the mask for it held the warmth of my breath in as I walked on towards the snowy reaches affording a view of the vast Lake Tahoe from up above. The moon twinkled its milky light on the snowy  reaches below, and I stopped here and there to take a picture. I remembered reading in The Sea Around Us that some of our ancestors thought the moon was made up of ice (it was a much older notion of course). It was an appealing theory – standing there in the light of the moon, with the thin glint of the snow light all about me, I could imagine how our ancestors came up with that one. 

I like to see how we made leaps in understanding, and I feel the joy of every discovery almost anew as I gain even a little understanding deeper than before. One of the things that still astounds me is the spatial intelligence required to figure out our position in the cosmos. I watch the constellations change their positions in the sky every night, I notice the moon at a different place and time, and yet, every time, I marvel at the leap of understanding for mankind. 

Read: The Man Who Deciphered the Heavens – a post on Nicholas Copernicus

That evening, the movie of choice was Tinker Bell’s Secret of the Wings. The daughter and the son overruled all the action packed thrillers suggested by the hardworking man who found us the cabin in the first place, and we settled in to watch the feisty fairy instead. Tinker Bell, the impulsive little thing that she is, is curious to see what the winter wonderland is like. Since the fairies of the warm lands are banned from going over to the winter side, of course she wants to go. It only seemed fitting to sit and watch the little movie together. 

Closeted in what looked like an adventurer’s cabin, with the soft light of the snow reflecting against the moonlight outside, a fun movie, and the warmth of food and beverage created the magic that Tinker Bell and her friends were creating up in Pixie Hollow. The pixie dust swirled and poured out in to the world, and we did the same with our comments. 

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We sought peace in the less popular trails. It was a trip meant to process the year, and say thanks to the world in spite of all that has happened during the year, or because of all that has happened during the year. I feel most like Anne of Green Gables when she says she does not know how to pray, but when out in the woods, looking up at the great gifts of nature, she can just feel a prayer and let it out into the universe. 

Isn’t it magical when our most positive thoughts take on wings and soar?

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“I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and I’d look up into the sky–up–up–up–into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer. …” Anne of Green Gables, By L M Montgomery

Once in a Blue Orange Moon

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. In sunny California it is the time fall weather finally starts to settle in. I pick out pumpkins to set by the door. Most years, my carving takes a back seat, and I settle for painting or sticking outsize eyes and a mouth on it instead.

But we decorate the house – bats and owls stickers fly around avoiding the fake spider webs. Hasty orange construction paper is stuck around the outside light, and all things orange are ready to be displayed for one whole evening.

I remember a few years ago on an evening walk after a vigorous trick-or-treating, I felt a thrill and stood there mesmerized for a moment as an owl flew against the moonlight. I know Zen and Buddhist teachers tell us to enjoy the significance of every moment. I am not sure about every moment but a few moments do  lodge themselves in a magical spot. The owl flying across the moon was one such. I remember standing there bathed in the magic of it all. The owl of course is a visceral being, and was after its prey – nothing more nothing less. Halloween was an affair that was of no consequence to it. 

The blue moon will shine its benign light on us on Halloween. The trick-or-treaters will be thin on the ground, of course, because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and I should think bats will not be getting that warm a reception with humanity this year! 

The son got himself a costume that has a mask with an air filter on it keeping with the grim theme the world is cloaked in. “Hint!” I said holding up my hand in a V with two fingers on either side to those who tried to guess what it was on the video camera. The son shook his head disappointed and said, “Your hint is from Star Trek! My costume is from Star Wars!” Ahh well.

The son wore his Halloween costume to class today. This would have to be the poor substitute for the marvelous parade they usually get to attend on Halloween, but he dressed up with gusto . I was excited to see his classmates dressed up too: their tiny passport sized icons on the screen showing me the heads of princesses and pirates would have to do.  Their teacher was kind enough to let me read my book, Halloween in the Jungle, to them. Reading the books to the children is by far one of the best experiences I have had. Their reception to the story, their thoughtful questions thereafter, and their wholehearted enjoyment of the simple story is more than enough for me. Why? Oh why do we lose that marvelous feeling of youth as we grow older?

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Tango Tiger, Janny Rat, Boy Elephant, Biso Bison, Spotty Rat and all their delightful pals are heading into their 7th year celebrating Halloween in the Jungle. The Halloween in the Jungle book has since given me immense joy. 

But this time, I feel a special bond to the little tykes as they revel in the clearing by Luda Lake, eating pumpkin pies, drinking orange and persimmon juice, and dancing to the lovely sounds of the musical orchestra with Nighty Nightingale, Owl, Bat and Frog. You see this time, just like the illustrations show, there will be a marvelous full moon night to light up Halloween. 

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Blue moons are not as rare as we think, for they come around every 2-3 years. But apparently, this is the first time since World War II that a full moon visible from everywhere in the US coincided with Halloween. I am not one to set much store by signs, but if after the 1944 Halloween full moon, we were able to set the world to rights, surely a Halloween full moon and a blue moon at that should work miracles.

Happy Halloween!

How do we exist?

It had been another long day, and as the clock ticked towards midnight, the body yearned for sleep, but the mind looked longingly at the tsundoku pile, and craved for some quiet moments of solitude. I peeked out of the window, and the moon sailing high through the skies tugged at my heart. There is something so intensely beautiful about catching sight of our  lovely cosmic neighbor sending its mellow moonbeams through the leaves at night.

I looked for a word that captures the phenomenon, but there isn’t one.

There are two words in Japanese that come close (the Japanese language has such amazing words for admiring wondrous nature around us.)

Kawaakari ( 川明かり – a word depicting the evening reflection of light on water, or in some cases can refer to the reflection of the moonlight off flowing water.

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Komorebi (木漏れ日): Sunshine filtering through the trees.

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I had just started reading The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson. In the first chapter, Rachel Carson takes us with her steady voice into a time on Earth before the seas were created. When the planet was still heaving and churning its metallic ores, hot searing waves of liquid settling into a semi-liquid state in its outer cores. She wonders then about the question, how were the oceans formed?
“So if I tell here the story of how the young planet Earth acquired an ocean, it must be a story pieced together from many sources and containing whole chapters the details of which we can only imagine.
For although no man was there to witness this cosmic birth, the stars and moon and the rocks were there, and indeed, had much to do with the fact that there is an ocean.”

Then, she leads us from this fiery place in the cosmos with the sun heaving its solar flares, the earth itself arranging itself into concentric spheres with hot, molten iron at its core, and an intermediate sphere of semiplastic basalt , the outer layers of granite and basalt. And then gently she lures us into the possibility of the moon and the ocean being related to each other.

The next time you stand on a beach at night, watching the moon’s bright path across the water, and conscious of the moon drawn tides, remember that the moon itself may have been born of a great tidal wave of earthly substance, torn off into space.

How can one not be mesmerized by the creation of the moon? Was it truly hewn from the surface of the earth (The moon’s density does match the density of the outer crust). The hypothesis that the moon was hewn away after massive solar tides exerting a pull on semi-molten Earth is based on the theory that the large portion thus hewn away left such a large scar on the surface of the Earth. A scar that would continue to shape Earth and its lifeforms for millions of years afterward: The Pacific Ocean.

Later, as the Earth cooled and clouds formed from the steam rising, the rains started. Pouring onto the hot earth for years – initially almost immediately evaporating into steam, but eventually collecting as water – forming the first oceans.

It is, of course, fascinating that we still do not know for sure how the moon was created. There are several theories – theories of violent impacts, random objects being attracted by gravity, and young earth managing to keep one satellite, while heftier ones like Jupiter acquiring 67 etc. This is a topic still under discussion.

https://www.space.com/19275-moon-formation.html

Nevertheless, the very first chapter had me wowed. I would never be able to look at our closest cosmic neighbor with the same eyes ever again. How often I have stood marveling at the moon? Out on walks, my heart always skips a beat when I catch sight of the beautiful, faithful satellite accompanying Earth as she tears through space. To think that there is a possibility that the very creation of our cosmic neighbor was crucial to our oceans is awe inspiring. I live on the Pacific Coast, and never can I see the bays, the ocean or the moon without reminding me of this book.

The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson

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The skies hold the answers to our most philosophical stirrings. Why do we exist?

The seas, it seems, holds the answers to our most existential stirrings. How do we exist?

Moon Magic

A few weeks ago, I got the incredible chance to see the full moon rise along with the sunset. One of those serendipitous things that the Covid-19 shelter-in-place has given me. I did not realize that it was the golden moon – the day the 🌝 moon comes closest to the Earth, and maybe  it was better that I hadn’t prepared for it. For, out on the walk, I stood mesmerized as  I saw the moon rise slowly in the East, as the sun set slowly in the West.

A better time or combination of light I could not imagine. A golden orb that rose from behind the green hills, and bathed the beautiful Earth with its benevolent beams, while the glittering sun bowed out graciously throwing pinks, oranges and purples with abandon against the blue skies. I watched the geese fly on over, ducks swim against the moonbeams on the lake, squirrels stopping to take in the surrounding beauty, and blackbirds swarming low over the lake waters. 

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I turned around to share  the beautiful marvel of the time with my  fellow beings when I realized I was quite physically distant from my fellow beings – human or otherwise. Do other sentient beings feel the same overwhelming sense of being at moments like these? Do dolphins take the time to gaze at the full moon like we do, do polar bears and penguins do the same from their respective poles? What a great unifying experience we all have with the celestial shows the universe throws at us?! 

Oh! To quiver with excitement with the Earth’s beauty has become my wont. 

The blue skies turned inky, and the golden moon turned silver, and  yet I could not pluck myself from the beauty of the evening. 

The giant glittering orb slowly peeked out from behind the green hills, and then rose steadily in a few minutes. We stood a few feet from a lake, socially distancing ourselves. How many times I have felt my heart flutter by catching a glimpse of the moon unexpectedly in the skies? How many lovers have gazed at the moon wistfully, dreamily, lovingly or yearningly through the ages? What a great unifying experience we all have across the pages of time?! 

I am so glad for our  nearest cosmic neighbor – I remember a few years ago when  we were moon-gazing awestruck at the beauty of the reflected sunlight, the son said, “Can you imagine how beautiful nights  on Jupiter must be? Imagine looking up and seeing 64  moons in the sky!

I was taken aback at the statement, but also thankful for the one moon we do have. 

A known Selenophile if there was one, I picked up the book Music for Mister Moon by Philip Stead with a song in my heart that evening.  The beaming moon has always attracted me, whether it is catching a fleeting glimpse of it as it appears and reappears amidst scudding clouds, or the waxing and waning of it during its reliable moon cycles or even when I catch an unexpected glimpse of it when the sun is bright and high above in the sky. 

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The story of  a shy young girl who plays her instrument for no one but herself gently tugs us along for a ride as she accidentally pulls the moon right out of the sky. The moon’s revelation to know what it must be  like to float on the waters it is always reflected upon brings a little smile to your own lips, and slowly, but surely  you cheer for the little shy girl who opens her talent up to share with the moon.

The book does its  best to capture the magic of the moon, but probably the best gift of all is the dream I had after writing this post: I woke up thinking I was on a boat mesmerized by the floating moon near me.

🌙 🌝 Moon Magic. ✨ ✨

Thoughts Gained & Lost

I looked at this note written a few days ago: both amused and exasperated at it.

**** The children said something – what? As I was walking around by myself, it came to me loud and clear, and now cannot seem to remember it! But remember, and remember to WRite about it!!

It had obviously been something marvelous that I felt the need write myself this note. I have tried and tried to jog my memory though. I don’t have a clue. It could have been anything.  Sports, tea, school, politics, travels, books or social media?

I remember the walk though.

The full moon was beaming – there was no other word for it. It looked larger than usual, felt much closer to earth and glowed a golden yellow in the early evening skies. I am a confirmed selenophile (a lover of the moon) there isn’t a doubt. The pinkish hues of the sunset was just giving rise to the purplish hues and slowly but surely the inky blues of the night would creep in, as though slowly covering the blanket gently over the world.

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The family had all called or texted me to look up at the skies from wherever they were, and I glowed in the beaming moonlight, fading sunlight and the glorious inner light born of happiness that the children in particular had thought of me when they had seen something beautiful.

I was enjoying the quiet of a moon that rises on an early evening over a week-end. Things seemed surreal in this light and time. This, I felt, was the truest way to bring oneself down to our marvelous Earth.

The birds don’t fly any faster just because the world around them pants and coughs up smoke in automobiles charging from one place to another. The buds are still furled in the tree boughs or the plants below – they don’t rush to unfurl their petals just because February sped past, and beautiful March roared its way in. The grass sways to the speed of the winds whipping them – the winds react to the atmospheric pressures, no one can change their pace.

The world moves on measurably, one moment at a time. The full moon grew predictably over the past fortnight, and there it beamed at me, and my little family, wherever we were at that point in time.  I thought of different posts to write up, beautiful phrases flitted in, and then by the looks of it, evaporated just as quickly. If only I could shore up the energy and determination to write up all the lovely things that occur to me as I walk on!

Later when I read this Brain Pickings post on Walking as Creative Fuel, I nodded along at the wise words of Kenneth Grahame.

Kenneth Grahame – the author of Wind in the Willows wrote:
“Not a fiftieth part of all your happy imaginings will you ever, later, recapture, note down, reduce to dull inadequate words; but meantime the mind has stretched itself and had its holiday.”

Out on the walk that day, what he says seems to have been true. I relished the enthusiasm and the energy in the note to myself – the asterisks, exclamation points and the half-capitalized words written out in haste. It definitely wasn’t the first such note to myself.

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Well, the universe alone knows how many great works of literature have been lost, and gained by writers enjoying themselves on their walks. I am glad for the simple act of walking and musing. The meandering of the soul is special because of them.

 

November Novelty

A Version of this post appeared in The India Currents Magazine – the article focuses on communication.

The quality of the evening was ethereal. The cold November evenings had begun to set in. I had turned the thermostat up a couple of notches, the white light effused a warm glow against the fall colored curtains. Halloween was still fresh in everyone’s memory, Diwali had snuggled in, and spread its share of warmth and joy even amidst some moments of disquiet with raging fire and wind whipped storms.

 

 

I surveyed the house and felt a surge of warmth course through me. Dear friends and family were visiting, and I was glowing with pleasure at the companionship of the evening. The house had been through the cleaning wheel: which is to say that the closets were groaning and stuffed to their very brims. I warned guests to open any closet with care warning them that a dozen things could tumble out. All the children – residents and visitors, nodded with sincerity, but I found them an hour later playing hide-and-seek, and amazingly finding place to hide in the very closets that I thought sent me a clear memo to not put anything else in there. Oh well!

The conversation was ebbing and flowing with the fine food and beverages among the young and old alike. Jesty topics were making their way towards hefty ones, and laughter was being sprinkled with wrinkled looks of concentration as differing viewpoints were proffered, and evaluated. The beautiful feeling of minds changing slightly from their earlier stances mingled with the exasperation of trying to string complex thoughts into words – one word at a time, were at work, and I marveled at humanity once again.

“The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.”
― William Hazlitt, Selected Essays, 1778-1830

Can we get better? Absolutely. But I sometimes feel we lose sight of marvelous gift we have of empathy and of trying to understand one another. Moments in which we bestow upon one another the inestimable gift of attentive listening with a view to understanding. I was reminded of the saying, that I read somewhere a while ago.

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity – Simone Weil

When we talk of meaningful moments, it is moments like these that we wish to savor. November is unusually so – whether it is because it is my birthday month or the time for Thanksgiving, and therefore a time for gratitude, or something else, I cannot say, but I find it is a good time of year to look back on the past year, reflect on the grains that made up the texture of the preceding months, and those months layered upon years, like a tree adding a ring to its makeup.

Sappy perhaps? But so is life. 

 

 

It is the time of year when I select books with happy endings, the time of year I make it a point to snuggle in with my books and children,  buckle down and write more for November is Novel Writing Month.

The air is nippier, the nights longer. It is also the time for crunch parties for in the area I live the trees are resplendent with the colors of Autumn. The gingko trees are turning gold (post coming up soon). There is no greater joy than seeing life scurry about in these changed surroundings. The promise of rain is in the air. Misty mornings make for a magical start. Even the waxing and waning of the moon brings with it a new joy for the nights longer and the evenings bring with it a different texture of joy. Kawaakari is sooner (Kawaakari – a beautiful Japanese word denoting the rays of the setting sun on a flowing river)

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It is a time to send thanks for all the small and big things in life. A time in short for us to enjoy Hygge. A wonderful word the Danish have, denoting the warmth emanating from inside even as the winters outside grow colder.

Here is to a wonderful season of the upcoming holidays, of nurturing light in a dark world.

Moonbeams in the Morning

The morning alarm trinkled: Dawn’s misty summons. I got up, wondering why the nights passed so quickly, hoping for a little more precious sleep in the mornings. I stepped out of my bed and gingerly peeked out the window. Dawn was doing the same thing – trying to sleep in a little more, while the moon shone high above the tree tops, bathing the surrounding clouds in a magical shroud of moonbeams. The dew drops on the trees glistened in the same benign light. I stood there shivering a little for the night temperatures had dipped, and there had been a mild drizzle.

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The moon is there every night, the sun rises every morning, and yet the moments of quietly standing there before the hustle and bustle of our days started made me appreciate everything a little more sharply. When the son woke up, I held a finger to my lips not ready to start talking just yet, and made him peek out at the fine moon too. His eyes widened a little at the beauty of the morning, dew drops, trees, clouds and the moon. He chattered in his bright tones that sent the waves of sleep flying from him, “Did you know? We may not be able to enjoy the view of the moon for very much longer?”

“Why?” I asked in spite of myself.

“Well… we are already working on building colonies on the moon. Soon, the moon will be full of houses just like ours, and then who knows how the moon will look from here?”

“Who told you that?”

“No one!”

“Okay….where did you read that?” So much for quiet mornings bathed in contemplation.

“In the Time for Kids magazine. It seems we are already planning on moving there.” he said a tinge worried that I hadn’t received his original memo in my sleep addled state.

“Well…for all the things we have built on Earth, from outer space, it still looks beautiful you know? Maybe it will be the same for the moon. Although, I am not sure I am happy with the idea of looking in on someone’s home like that. Wouldn’t it be creepy?!”

He laughed.

I was reminded of the essay by Oliver Sacks in the book, Everything in its Place: Who Else Is Out There?

everything_place

In it, he starts with his thoughts on the book, First Man on the Moon by H.G.Wells.
Anybody Out There?- Oliver Sacks essay
One of the first books I read as a boy was H.G.Wells First Man on the Moon. The two men, Cavon & Bedford lie in an apparently barren and lifeless crater just before the lunar dawn. Then as the sun rises, they realize there is an atmosphere – they spot small pools and eddies of water, and then little round objects scattered on the ground. One of these , as it is warmed by the sun, bursts open and reveals a sliver of green.’A seed! “says Cavor, and then, very softly, says ‘Life!”.They light a piece of paper and throw it into the surface of the moon. It glows and sends up a thread of smoke indicating that there is oxygen.
This was how Wells conceived the prerequisites of life: water, sunlight (a source of energy), and oxygen. “A Lunar Morning” was my first introduction to astrobiology.

While it is interesting for us to dream of conquering alien worlds and expanding our footprint with habitable planets, such as K2-18b circling a red star called M Dwarf; it is also highly interesting to see that even on Earth that is our original home, we require a very specific set of circumstances for our life to thrive. We need our oxygen levels to be exactly right, our carbon dioxide levels to not rise too much, we need our microbiomes to be in a particular state of harmony with the larger ecosystem.

Read: Good Food Mood

Take for instance, this excerpt from cosmonaut Alexei Leonov – the first man to walk in space for 12 minutes. Excerpt :
“I decided to drop the pressure inside the suit … knowing all the while that I would reach the threshold of nitrogen boiling in my blood, but I had no choice” Leonov said

I enjoyed Oliver Sacks’ footnote, for in one sentence, it reconciled both the resilience and delicate nature of our entire species.

“If Wells envisaged the beginning of life in the The First Man on the Moon, he envisaged its ending in The War of the Worlds. where the Martians, confronting increasing desiccation an loss of atmosphere on their own planet, make a desperate bid to take over the Earth (only to perish from infection by terrestrial bacteria). Wells, who had trained as a biologist, was very aware of the both the toughness and the vulnerability of life.”

How many species have left behind their fleeting impressions on the cosmic playground? Our own are laughably recent. Will the Quod-liop-tukutuk-sfaunusaurus call us by the same name when they dig up our remnants millennia from now?

Books:
The First Man on the Moon : H.G.Wells
War of the Worlds : H.G.Wells
Astronaut Alexei Leonov: First Man to Space Walk
Everything in its Place : Oliver Sacks