Seeing what the moon can doAug 17, 2017 By Betty Starks Case
"Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon . . . . ."
So goes a long-ago verse from one of the first books of "Mother Goose Rhymes" that most of us learned when quite small. The words make little sense. But they rhyme. Sometimes that's all that's needed to crown a poem with glory.
Next Monday's eclipse of the sun by the moon won't likely put a cow up there. (A Wyoming mule deer might come closer). But this eclipse is an event of rarity almost as awesome as an animal in flight. With the moon as visitor to both sun and Earth at once next Monday, seems to me that big ball of rock is creating more mystery than we've given it for some time.
Before the courageous astronaut Neil Armstrong and his buddies ventured up to set the first human foot on the moon, we could only dream about what might be there.
We'd gaze at the bright shiny orb with romantic thoughts, imagine a human face, create silly rhymes, and endless songs about love. We even believed we could feel some sort of magic in its light.
Now that we've reduced our main night-light to rock, what do we have left?
With such a bold act as eclipsing the sun, it looks to me like the moon aims to be noticed again, to prove it has a place in this huge scheme of life, to remind us of its powers just in case we're wandering astray.
So here's my understanding of this wonder. And some of its mystical effects.
The moon does exert a very real power over us, in many ways we may not acknowledge day to day. Like, where did we get our sense of time? Or a way to measure it?
Consider: A month is 30-31 days - the moon's own schedule from a baby sliver of itself to full round growth.
Early American Indians' time was measured by moons.
Our calendar assigns 30-31 days (moon-time) to each month.
A human egg (ovum) produced by a female takes 30 days to ready itself for reproduction.
A pay check schedule is often 30 days.
A home or car payment schedule is the same.
A birthday is based on 12 30-day months.
The gestation period for a human baby is approximately nine 30-day months.
The list goes on.
It's been wisely suggested that God invented time to keep everything from happening at once. Maybe he did. Maybe that's the job of the moon?
In contrast, the sun comes up a sphere and goes down a sphere. The moon changes its shape all month long. Clearly, it has powers the sun does not.
Then there's our creative response to the moon. Apparently part of this celestial night-light's purpose was to inspire us to beautiful music.
Like the songs "Fly me to the moon," "Blue Moon," "Paper Moon," "Moon River," and so many others we sang, and loved, and dreamed our way through for years.
Not so many songs have been written on the subject since man learned the true substance of the moon. "Dancing in the Moonlight" is one that comes to mind. But the more recent tunes don't seem to carry the magic that they did when we could only guess or pretend what was up there in the sky casting its mystery down on us.
Let's face it: We'll be as children in the presence of an eclipsing sun. We've never experienced such an event before.
Wouldn't it be fun to recite the silly rhyme of our childhood as the moon begins to cover the sun next Monday?
"The little dog laughed to see such sport..."
And when that darkened globe emerges from its eclipse shadows, and the sun lights it in full glory, we might burst into "When my blue moon turns to gold again..."
Just as we celebrated the turn of the century in 2000 with a nighttime stroll and a moonlight kiss, maybe we could try it again in the haunting dark of the moon to celebrate another celestial event of history.
"And the dish ran away with the spoon..."
OK, so it's not that romantic. End of rhyme.
But not the end of that shining orb's powerful effect on our lives. Every day.
If you don't like it, or if you do, just remember: The moon did it.