There is a hill near my home that I often climb at night. The noise of the city is a far-off murmur. In the hush of dark I share the cheerfulness of crickets and the confidence of owls. But it is the drama of the moonrise that I come to see. For that restores in me a quiet and clarity that the city spends too freely.
From this hill I have watched many moons rise. Each one had its own mood. There have been broad, confident harvest moons in autumn; shy, misty moons in spring; lonely, white moons in winter, rising into the utter silence of an ink-black sky; and smoke-smudged, orange moons over the dry fields of summer. Each, like fine music, excited my heart and calmed my soul.
Moon gazing is an ancient art. To prehistoric hunters, the moon overhead was as unerring as a heartbeat. They knew that every 29 days it became full-bellied and brilliant, then sickened and died, and then was reborn once again. They knew that the waxing moon appeared larger and higher overhead after each succeeding sunset. They knew that the waning moon rose later each night, until it vanished in the sunrise. To have understood the moon’s patterns from experience must have been a profound thing.
But we, who live indoors, have lost contact with the moon. The glare of street lights and the dust of pollution veil the night sky. Though men have walked on the moon, it grows less familiar. Few of us can say what time the moon will rise tonight.
Still, it tugs at our minds. If we unexpectedly encounter the full moon, huge and yellow over the horizon, we can’t help but stare back in awe at its commanding presence. And the moon has gifts to bestow upon those who watch.
I learned about its gifts one July evening in the mountains. My car had mysteriously stalled, and I was stranded and alone. The sun had set, and I was watching what seemed to be the bright-orange glow of a forest fire beyond a ridge to the east. Suddenly, the ridge itself seemed to burst into flames. Then, the rising moon, huge, red and grotesquely misshapen by the dust and sweat of the summer air, loomed up out of the woods.
Distorted by the hot breath of earth, the moon seemed somewhat ill-tempered and imperfect. At a nearby farmhouse, dogs barked nervously, as if this strange light had wakened evil spirits in the weeds.
But as the moon lifted off the ridge, it gathered firmness and authority. Its complexion changed from red, to orange, to gold, to impassive yellow. It seemed to draw light out of the darken-ing earth, for as it rose, the hills and valleys below grew dimmer. By the time the moon stood clear of the horizon—full-chested, round and the color of ivory—the valleys were deep shadows in the landscape. The dogs, reassured that this was the familiar moon, stopped barking. And all at once I felt a confidence and joy close to laughter.
The drama took an hour. Moonrise is slow and serried with subtleties. To watch it, we must slip into an older, more patient sense of time. To watch the moon move inexorably higher is to find an unusual stillness within ourselves. Our imaginations become aware of the vast distances of space, the immensity of the earth, and the huge improbability of our own existence. We feel small but privileged.
Moonlight shows us none of life’s harder edges. Hillsides seem silken and silvery, the oceans still and blue in its light. In moonlight we become less calculating, more drawn to our feelings.
And odd things happen in such moments. On that July night, I watched the moon for an hour or two, and then I got back into the car, turned the key in the ignition and heard the engine start, just as mysteriously as it had stalled a few hours earlier. I drove down from the mountains with the moon on my shoulder and peace in my heart.
I often return to watch the rising moon. I feel drawn to it, especially when events crowd ease and clarity of vision into a small corner of my life. This happens often in the fall. In such moments I go to my hill and wait the hunter’s moon, enormous and gold over the horizon, filling the night with vision.
An owl swoops from the ridge top, noiseless but bright as flame. A cricket shrills in the grass. I think of poets and musicians. Of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and of Shakespeare, whose Lorenzo declaims in The Merchant of Venice, “How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!/ Here will we sit and let sounds of music/ Creep in our ears.” I wonder if their verse and music, like the music of crickets, are in some way voices of the moon. With such thoughts, my citified confusions melt into the quiet of the night.
Lovers and poets find deeper meaning at night, when we are all apt to pose deeper questions—about our origins and destinies. We indulge in riddles, rather than in the impersonal geometries that govern the day-lit world. We become philosophers and mystics.
At moonrise, as we slow our minds to the pace of the heavens, enchantment steals over us. We open the vents of feeling, and exercise parts of our minds that reason locks away by day. We hear, across the distances, murmurs of ancient hunters and see anew the visions of poets and lovers of long ago.
2011-03-17 08:48 编辑：kuaileyingyu