Saturday, January 30, 2010

Garden Diary: Full Moon

This is moonrise on an early winter evening in late January. Rockets of cedar (Juniperus virginiana), an ancient Japanese weeping cherry, red maples, a fringe of still, icy cold vegetation edge the aperture of sky. As I walked out to look, it was a magical moment, just at the transition from light to dark.

The sky is mediator between the garden and the black, empty darkness of space in which the Earth, and we, exist - an ad hoc creation, an illusion simulated by our human perception of the small spectrum of electromagnetic radiation we call light. The beacon of the rising full moon brings me closer to an awareness of this connection. The garden becomes an almost spiritual place of transition from the quotidian affairs of a work day at home to a moment of mystery on the border of infinity. In all seasons, at all times of day or night, the sky projects a feeling, a mood - somber quietness on cloudy winter days, translucent inner glow of wetness in spring, optimism on those halcyon early summer days, blinding, insufferable heat and dryness of high summer, abundance turning to ripeness, and eventually ferment and rot, of autumn.

Thoughts of seasons to come, again and again, but eventually to end, for me, for us all. I think I'll always associate gardens with death. Not in a morbid way, but with a sense of peace and rest, something of the idea of paradise - not, god forbid, the idea of heaven up there beyond that cold, dark sky - but some earthly paradise of nonbeing.

What does all this have to do with the garden? Everything, don't you think?


  1. I'm sitting here typing this and looking at that very same moon, sharing your thoughts and wondering why it is so extremely intense this particular month.

  2. I read a student poem in college. It's title captures the image perfectly: the moon as salt lick.

  3. When I gaze upward I'm often reminded of just how incredibly fortunate we are to be spinning on the one round rock, within an unimaginable vast distance, that actually supports life. Double blessed are we to have evolved to the point of realizing, and for some, appreciating our place in the universe.

  4. Yes we are. We so easily forget how fragile it all is. The biosphere has the relative thinness of tissue paper. We're literally on the edge of existence, yet we can appreciate the beauty of a single weed, and we live without fear.

  5. It's been a big, beautiful and cold moon here. There's not much gardening to be done here now. Wandering out at night and looking at the moon and stars is about as good as it gets.

  6. Nothing like a big ole moon in the middle of winter, especially with a snow cover. I remember turning my car lights off late at night after a big snow and it was an amazing sight. Blue everywhere. (I don't normally drive at night without lights!)

  7. I shiver just to look at these photos.

    Came over to check the mention on

    is ok.


  8. Ester,
    It's an honor to be mentioned by someone married to a Martian.

  9. To think that humans have been to the moon, something that not long ago might have seemed so distant, unattainable. Still, I like how you'd willing to settle for an earthly paradise. Maybe I'm too oldschool to ever really want to be part of things of the sky. There's happiness to be had in this thin skin of Earth's crust, with life-giving light coming from above and equally sustaining materials from the ground below. The sky goes on forever. What we have here is so much rarer.

  10. James,
    Pascal said something like "what frightens me is the spaces between the stars." I choose earth, fragile and temporary as it is. (Not sure about the Pascal quote, though.)



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