Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Full Moon

In transit yesterday, from one of my parallel universes to another. Sorry to have missed you. Tom was going to post, but we had a communication mix up.

I should have put off my return to New England for few days. Last evening was the full Moon, the very best time for walking the night beach in Exuma.

Thoreau was a nighttime walker. The outdoors at midnight, he said, is as unknown to most of us as Central Africa. He wanted to explore it and didn't waste full Moons: "What if one moon has come and gone with its world of poetry, its weird teachings, its oracular suggestions, and I have not used her? One moon gone by unnoticed?" Walking by moonlight he felt a tide in his thoughts. A Moon tide. Pulling him upward. "How insupportable would be our days," he wrote in an essay on night and moonlight, "if the night with its dews and darkness did not come to restore the drooping world."

The full Moon after the Spring equinox was, in former times, variously called the Egg Moon, Grass Moon, or Paschal Moon. We don't pay much attention to full Moons anymore. Certainly, once I'm nestled down in the all-night ambient light my New England town I will hardly notice when the Moon is full.

Two hundred years ago, before electricity, a full Moon made it possible to travel safely at night. In England, a group of entrepreneurs, including Josiah Wedgwood (of pottery fame), Matthew Boulton (of steam engine fame), and Erasmus Darwin (of grandson fame), established a Lunar Society that met each month on the night of the full Moon to socialize and exchange ideas. In the course of their moonlit meetings they consolidated the Industrial Revolution and helped launched humankind upon a new course of middle-class democracy.