Monday, September 28, 2015
Morning Thanks--Blood Moon
That is not a picture I shot.
I failed miserably. I'm not about to tell you how much loot I have stuck into cameras--it's embarrassing and, to a Calvinist, more than slightly sinful; but last night it wasn't the hardware that blew it, it was me, the nincompoop running it.
I didn't know how to adjust things, didn't know how to move the Olympus to manual focusing, couldn't figure out how to make the blasted tripod do what tripods are supposed to do, simply lacked techniques to get my wonderful equipment to deliver in such extreme circumstances, the the dark of the night.
I'm talking about the night photography, and I'm talking about last night, and I'm talking about the moon, that blood moon above. A million pictures of it must exist on line this morning, hundreds of thousands of them as perfectly wonderful as this one. Don't look for mine among 'em. I failed.
And I'd prepared, too--packed it all up in the back of the car, chose a spot high above the Big Sioux River, pulled a quilt of perfect darkness around me so that the sky was overflowing with stars, the Milky Way a gigantic splash across the night. I was ready.
Until it happened. Once it appeared--the blood moon--I became the village idiot. I'd love to show off my cool shots, but I can't. I failed.
Once upon a time, man didn't fiddle with cameras. Once upon a time, when the sun went down the only thing there was to watch was the heavenly big screen. Once upon a time, people physically shuttered at the sight of a blood moon. (I know it's a bad pun, but it's early.)
Suddenly, out of nowhere a ghastly shadow creeps across the face of a silvery moon, an astonishing surprise, and then, magically, the man in the moon pulls on a red satin robe as if something big is about to occur on the stage that is the world below.
Some historians claim that Ben Franklin's most significant gift wasn't the hand he had in the Declaration of Independence, but the shock he felt when flying a kite in a thunderstorm. When he determined what climactic conditions created lightning, he was bringing a virtual end to the faith that fearful bolts of the stuff emanated from God's almighty fingers.
But humanity doesn't give up faith easily, and those who try to mesh natural phenomena like a blood moon into their own dire eschatology still exist, 21st century or not. Some Christians--none of my friends, but some somewhere--believe that because the Jewish High Holy Days this year arrive at the end of what is for them a significant seven-year cycle and is accompanied by a rare fourth blood moon, that kind of heavyweight combo portends something horrifying in Jewish, American, and world history. Watch for it now!
Last night's blood moon was an amazing phenomenon, something memorable, a trip up the hill in the darkness well worth it. But I'm not ready to prophecy impending horror, and we aren't planning quite yet on withdrawing our gadzillions from American State Bank and sticking it all into a mattress.
So what did I learn on the night of the blood moon? First, I learned that you're never too old to have a great time out on a country road in the dark of night. And second, this Calvinist learned once again that he's an idiot.
This morning thanks is for lessons learned from a blessedly beautiful blood moon.