Sunday, October 4, 2009

Man in the Moon

Amazing: a perfect summer day just as I was beginning to think we'd seen the last of them. Clear blue skies, blazing sunshine, and a breeze just strong enough to blow away yesterday's humidity. A day as gorgeous as advertised. All I wanted was to spend it outdoors--and that's exactly what Jim and I did. We drove to the Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley for hand made sheep milk cheeses and fresh bread, crawling in traffic through Chester and passing several pick-your-own-apples farms teaming with noisy families. Then we headed to the park at Spruce Run, mercifully deserted by the summertime crowds. We picked a spot near the reservoir, spread a blanket on the grass, and unpacked our cheeses plus some apples and a Coppola Syrah-Shiraz. Need I say more? It was an idyllic way to spend the afternoon.

Later, heading east on Route 80 on my way home, a fat, full moon hung off to my left. It was one of those freakishly gigantic ones, the kind that my brain (which really has no clue what it's talking about) thinks of as a harvest moon. A deep, burnished gold, it stood in sharp contrast to the steely sky. And for the first time since who knows when, I saw in its random pattern of gray craters that storied "man in the moon". I told myself repeatedly that it was just an illusion, but each time I blinked, looked away, and looked back, the benevolent face with the hooded eyes and knowing grin was still there.

I've decided it must be symbolic of something. Maybe it's about the imagination trumping the cold, hard truth. In the face of what is generally regarded as real, we can chose to view things through the kaleidoscopic lense in our minds. On this day, Jim and I chose to celebrate the pure and simple joys of life, savoring the bread and cheese, the water and the breeze, the thick, damp grass and the thump of acorns dropping from majestic oak trees. A more sober reality--the one where his mother waits to find out if she's dying of cancer--was lurking in the shadows. But for a few hours our imaginations ruled, fueled by the warmth of the sun, a bottle of red--and the Man in the Moon.

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