I was walking home through an evening that had become veiled and dusky. A thin breath of fog coated the edges of trees and street lamps, turning them into gentle objects, into vague, painterly thoughts. It was like walking through a nocturne by Whistler.
The twilight was mellow and cool, a blue reflection of a new, richer season. Summer, however, still clung with a humid grip, and gardens continued to gasp within its hothouse embrace. It was late September, approaching dark, but the weather still mocked scarves and gloves.
There was only the sky left to explore. Shyly, hopefully, I looked up and gasped – admittedly, it was almost inaudible, but my mind echoed with a great shout of recognition and welcome. The moon, even at this relatively early hour, was high and buoyant, her light tickling the trees’ black filigree tips.
Ninety-six percent illuminated, approaching her harvest size, she swam through a net of clouds like a mermaid. She was bright: brighter than the lamps rooted across the street; bright enough to guide ancient farmers on their antediluvian harvests.
That particular evening, the autumnal equinox was only a couple of days old, a golden declaration of the threshing months, of mature fields waiting beneath the goddess in the sky. She was an astronomical marker of early shadows and ripe sunsets of amber and cherry. She was a bold reminder of the living passages that crossed the firmament – the starry, distant map.
The moon was always observant: from the time when the night was a pulsating fist, balancing constellations inside its muscular palm to that evening when I was walking home with my dinner. She watched myth live out its days and the birth of history. And when September was nearing its end, she illuminated the upturned faces of the men who asked for only a few more hours to work in their fields.
‘Harvest moon’ is for some a sentimental term by now, or even an item of curiosity. But modern foolishness does not concern this pretty satellite. Every autumn she rides the equinox, her light touching the skein of constellations that surround her – Andromeda, Pegasus, the Ursas. She continues to shine on. People have work to do.