Standing outside in below freezing temperatures, hiding under three layers of insulation. The night sky is still a mottled navy blue. Few stars penetrate the light pollution. After watching its progress for the better part of an hour, the moon has become a torn fingernail, the southern most part still illuminated. The shadow of the earth has consumed the top 3/4 of the moon, and rendered it in a hazy orange glow.
This night is frigid. Temperatures hover around ten degrees below freezing. The roads are generally quiet. A layer of crystalline water has formed a layer if sparkling crust over cars, trees, and grass. Streetlights cast an orange glow on the evergreens, illuminating branches while leaving others in the dark. The effect is serene.
Even in the depths of an urbanized, industrialized city, there are pockets of total calmness. You can watch the steam rising from chimneys, uninterrupted by an errant wind. A morning bird withholds its song as it flys past.
The moon is now 80% shaded by that malevolent shadow. The upper portions are cast in a sublime, burnt orange glow. The very lower portions are holding fast to their bright, white illuminations, but slowly they too will succumb to the Earth’s shadow.
The moon is now a dark orange sphere with an ephemeral halo of clear, white light. I find myself cursing my contact lenses for depriving me of an un-cloudy view to observe the last lunar eclipse of 2011.
By mid-December, popular media has begun its unrelenting lists of newsworthy things of 2011: fashion, music, movies. But for me 2011 marks something completely different. 2011 is the last year I had my dad. This is the last time I will be clutching at his memory, trying to make sense out of what the cosmos have given me. But I am comforted by the absolute knowing that even now as I stand in below freezing temperatures, and watch the last lunar eclipse of 2011, I can feel the heavy weight of my dad’s presence, leaning against me, consuming me, and gazing in awe with me as the Earth’s shadow consumes the moon. I feel his presence now, stronger than I have in many moons. It only emerges when I’m doing something we used to do together-meteor showers, lunar eclipses, discussing the incomprehensible reaches of the universe. So I stand, fingers numb from cold, and know that he is with me still. My eyes are fatigued, and are refusing to merge what the left eye is seeing into what the right eye is seeing resulting in two identical glowing orange spheres. One for each of us, Dad.
Gazing skyward, the moon has been cast in an orange glow. The yellow-gold aura is radiating outwards into the navy sky.
And as suddenly as it began, it was over. The moon slowly drifted to below the cloud line and disappeared from sight.