The Block Island Times
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Moon shadows

By Martha Ball | Sep 11, 2012

The sun shines and the heavens rumble, the radio chatter is of violent rains and street flooding. Here, it goes from sunny to gray, to the sound of rain on the leaves outside my window to the whoosh of an afternoon breeze.

Labor Day has come and gone, not lost to a storm or a storm threat as has been our fate the past few years. It seemed a reasonably good holiday, people returning for one last gasp of summer rewarded by the good weather we hope has broken a bad streak, a losing streak.

Before it, everyone was talking about the Blue Moon, the second full moon in a month flaming as it rose from the sea, white and shining as it climbed, casting its pale color on the land. It was the way the full moon should always be, drawing the oceans, begetting lunacy.

This second in a month — or fourth in a season — has also been called the Betrayer’s Moon, I’ve been told, although the reasons seem varied, a fragment from centuries past, a bit of trivia with a number of possibilities as varied as sands on the shore.

It was a term new to me, appropriate for these particular celestial phenomena at this particular juncture, summer’s end observed, the calendars should say.

The Red Sox are… in shambles. They will not this year push the sun back up in the sky and give us one more day of summer. They seem a distance from even providing the hope of next year.

Worse, five years after our last Series win, and still not a decade since that glorious night in 2004 — when the moon was full and red over St. Louis — there is a documentary film showing on GBH tomorrow night basically, the promos tell us, blaming the fans.

It’s called “The Joy of Sox.” Seriously. I hope it bombs.

In town a very few buildings are already boarded, most will be open in some fashion for another month or two. The movie house, the childhood arbiter of the season — with the drugstore across the street, notice sometime the squares of black and white paint showing through on the lobby floor, the colors of the Empire and the then Spa — closed even before Labor Day, a sort of slamming of a door to which my reflexive reaction is decades old.

Both shut down, then, and that first night after summer that Fountain Square was dark remains a part of my sensory memory, the empty darkness that foretold the approaching dark days of winter.

The summer isn’t over, technically, and the night is mild. It has rained on and off all day and the sky is cloudy, almost opaque, when I go out into the dark. The moon has just risen but it is not visible, not even in the glowing manner it often is on nights such as this.

The night sounds of summer: the tinny rattle of crickets, the constant roll of the surf against the shore, and the assorted noises that are never quite identifiable, distant voices, music, engines. Slowly, some stars appear, not the great dome of bright white points, rather some here, some there, and clouds begin to emerge closer to the horizon.

There are planes moving overhead, so much closer than the stars, so much more identifiable, and vaguely audible in the still summer night. Mist is rising around the edges, floating up from the ponds and low places.

A flash of light confuses me, then there is another and another, distant lightning that will not give up, too far away to offer any sound, just those strobe lights in the clouds, echoes of summer storms passing beyond the horizon.

I give up, finally, and turn over to the political convention I have discovered I can receive over the internet even with my less than speedy connection. Just one speech, I tell myself, and already I am wondering how it will be spun tomorrow, a speech so carefully crafted even the fact checkers were stumbling over it, not finding the usual blatant errors.

They will be crazed on the radio tomorrow and I am beginning to finally realize the wisdom of a friend who told me I would rot my brain listening to the constant barrage of hate. Still, it is never adequate preparation for hearing the same charges from someone you know, and I have to wonder if people realize how on some visceral level these words, only words, are horrifying. I felt I’d been slammed against a brick wall and it was nothing about me, other than my idiocy.

It is good that it is still summer and I can still walk out into the yard and hear the sounds of the earth. The big dog of a moon has pushed its way through the clouds and rests at the top of the sky, a few days past full, casting its pale light, throwing moon shadows.

The maple has been losing its leaves for a month. During the day, from a distance, it appears green and full, but closer to it, the blue sky shows through, and now, when the moons washes the sky, it is a work of black filigree. It is older and damaged by storms long, long ago, and I wonder how long it will last; another, a volunteer, is growing up in the muddle of the old garden, fighting off grape and blackberry vines.

The breeze has come up, pushing the curtains into the room, reminding me to look at the forecast, which only reminds me to check on how much shorter tomorrow will be (2 minutes and 40 seconds shorter!) and I am back where I started, not in the soft summer night that is a comfort but in the ever diminishing light of day, this fast fall to the equinox, the portal to the tunnel of the fall.

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