Friday, October 02, 2015

Forecast for a Blood Moon: Cloudy with a chance of snark

PANAMA CITY BEACH — I set up three lawn chairs in front of our house Sunday night and positioned them to face the glowing blotch floating overhead, where the full moon’s glow struggled to pierce the cloud cover.

We hoped to glimpse the supermoon and the “blood moon” effect of the total lunar eclipse. Clouds moving in opposing directions, depending on their altitude, worked to obscure our view — a condition made all the more frustrating by the open gaps showing black space and sparkling stars at the wrong angle from our position below to allow a view of the moon.

Occasionally, a piece of moon would peek from behind a passing veil of vapor, but only for a moment. Blue light flickered through the neighbor’s blinds and dogs yapped from somewhere beyond the surrounding trees. I listened for coyote howls, but heard none.

Strangely, I offered no howls of my own, and never once wondered about werewolves; I’d almost think I must be growing up, if I didn’t know better.

I did, however, think about the silly warnings I’d seen posted on Facebook about the “Blood Moon!” event, as well as the exhortations from various world religious leaders not to panic. Apparently, some people actually thought a full moon/eclipse augured the end of the world; I would have thought that kind of superstition had died out long ago.

But then I see the sort of things that become viral on Facebook — please stop sharing that blasted privacy notice thing! — or that become points of contention between otherwise “enlightened” and educated persons, and can’t help but accept that we, as a species, will believe almost anything.

I mean, there are some things “I want to believe,” as Special Agent Fox Mulder’s office poster used to declare. But I don’t want to be stupid about it.

Apropos of Mulder, my son tossed in the metaphorical towel early on, returning indoors to continue his binge-watching of “The X-Files” on Netflix as he anticipates the revival of the series early next year. I suspect he’s genetically predisposed to enjoy that kind of thing, and I know which of his parents is to blame.

Meanwhile, cloud-watching and eclipse-waiting, it seems, is an old-person’s game. My wife and I persisted in our quest for another half-hour or so, as she experimented with different settings on her camera and I experimented with magical cloudbursting spells.

Surely, just the right gesture and exhortation — “Expelliarmus!” perhaps, or “Rain, rain, go away!” — would pierce the veil in time to see the moon blush in humiliation over all this misdirected attention.

The wife was less amused by my silliness than I was, I suspect, but more patient than she might have been in earlier years. A lunar halo effect, perhaps, though it may be that she allowed me some leeway because our pearl anniversary was the next day and a dozen roses had mysteriously materialized on the dining table earlier in the afternoon.

But try as I might, I failed to dissolve the cloud cover with either magic or telekinesis. Whether that’s a testimony to the strength of the tropical weather pattern or an indictment of the weakness of frequency or amplitude in my brainwaves — you can decide.

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