In the early part of last week we watched a waning crescent Moon slide past blazing Venus in the predawn sky. On Friday the Moon was new, and lost in the light of the Sun. Saturday was cloudy, but the sky cleared brilliantly at sunset, except for a band of low clouds in the west frustrating my slim chance of seeing the whisker-thin moon hiding in the twilight with Mercury.
Last night, a two-day-old waxing crescent, still wondrously thin, had climbed away from the setting Sun to join Jupiter. An eyelash. The paring of a nail. Holding the Earth-lit orb in its arms. If one had been standing on the Moon last evening, the Earth would have been almost full in the lunar sky, with only a crescent of darkness on its eastern rim where I was slipping into night.
Why? Why follow the Moon in its peregrinations? Because I can. Because the skies here are dark and clear and the horizon sweeps clear around. Because the Moon is part of my here and now, a beautiful part, telling time, marking out the passage of the days, punctuating the poetry and prose of life. Watching the Moon is part of what the poet Mary Oliver calls "the slow and difficult/ Trick of living, and finding it where you are."