Lunar Eclipse

MOONING — 1) To wander about or pass time languidly and aimlessly. 2) To yearn or pine as if infatuated. 3) Slang, to expose one’s buttocks in public as a prank or disrespectful gesture. (The Free Dictionary)

This week we experienced a rare lunar eclipse resulting in a blood moon — a red tint due to the shadow of the earth as it passed between the sun and the moon. It made me think about how often we associate the moon with color. My mom used to say the moon was made of green cheese. We also said, “once in a blue moon” and there was the song I still can sing (poorly), Rodgers and Hart’s “Blue Moon” made popular by Frank Sinatra and The Marcels:

“Blue moon you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own”

However, the moon seems to offer some romantic solace. To love someone is to be “over the moon”, and there are all kinds of songs that rhyme moon with June. “Moon River” by John H. Mercer and Henry N. Mancini, sung by Andy Williams and me (again, poorly) isn’t one of them, but hints at the possibility of finding love:

“Moon river, wider than a mile
I’m crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
Wherever you’re going, I’m going your way”

The moon also seems to enhance love, at least according to “Moonlight Becomes You,” written by Jimmy Van Heuson and sung famously by Bing Crosby:

“If I say I love you
I want you to know
It’s not just because there’s moonlight
Although, moonlight becomes you so”

The moon may do more than just shine. Maurice Sendak’s wonderful children’s book, “In the Night Kitchen,” hints at a more influential presence, “I see the moon and the moon sees me.” In the bedtime storybook, “Goodnight Moon,” Margaret Wise Brown invokes a human presence.

Along with other celestial bodies, the moon is thought to shape our lives. We even have horoscopes in the daily newspaper helping us to determine how to live each day. The classic “Aquarius” by Barney Kessel sums it up:

“When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars”

The moon can not only make you love, it can make you crazy. The term “lunacy” literally means “intermittent insanity once believed to be related to phases of the moon.”

In a weird and, now, quite inappropriate manifestation of his love, Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) in TV’s “The Honeymooners” expressed his, shall we say, mixed emotions for his wife: “To the moon, Alice!” brandishing his fist.

Apparently, the moon has many moods. In Old English folklore going back centuries, werewolves and lycanthropes, changed between human and wolf-like in the presence of a full moon. John Fogarty and Credence Clearwater Revival saw the darker side in “Bad Moon Risin’”:

“I see the bad moon risin’
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin’
I see bad times, today”

The dark side of the moon held much allure, at least until we started our space program. Starting with the nursery rhyme, “The Cow Jumped Over the Moon,” we’ve dreamed of finding out what’s there. Is there really a man in the moon?

Early science fiction and fantasy explored the concept. Jules Verne’s 1865, “From the Earth to the Moon,” and H.G. Wells’ 1901, “The First Men in the Moon” fed an entire science fiction literary appetite. Additional works by Edgar Rice Burroughs and others kept the genre alive. Even the comics got involved when Dick Tracy introduced characters flying between Earth and the moon in space coupes.

Well, we’ve done that now, and found that the reality is less fantastic than our imagination. But love has never been in the realm of fact — it lives in the heart. So, I’ll still sing (yes, poorly) all the old favorites, and maybe, just maybe, “Then peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars.”

If that doesn’t work, maybe we all should just “moon” the moon?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s