Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"You Can't Walk Backwards And Sip, Don't Swill" - Snow Geese And The Super Moon

Instead of the "Super Moon" maybe we should have called it the "Big Tangerine!" The top photo is of the magnificent orb as it crested the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean. The color was as you see it here, an intense melon shimmering slightly through haze on the water.

March 19, 2011 Super Moon as it came over the horizon, east over the Atlantic Ocean from Fox Island, Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg, Maine
This was the Super Moon an hour later as it crested the tree line in the parking lot of the beach.

     I just guzzled a whole can of  carbonated Polar seltzer. I slugged it down so fast that a huge bubble of gas ballooned into my throat and choked me. For just a second the bubble bulged into my larynx so I couldn't talk or even burp. Then, out it blew with a satisfying belch that would make a sailor blush.
     Writing is like that. Emotional experiences, like compressed gas in a can, are awaiting their moment to irrupt. If the can is opened too soon, the gas dissipates into the air as a non event. Too late or too fast and it's likely to choke me. Timing is everything; it can't be rushed, but it's rarely too late. Sometimes, right after a thing has happened, I can't write about it or look at the photographs because it's too much - emotional Vesuvius in the can of my brain. If I open the can and swill I think I might die.
     When my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I felt like that. And, my beloved little dog died a year ago, though I have yet to write about that, either. Through my fingers on the keyboard, I feel the swelling in my throat coming and it feels too big. There are things in life that are so monumental as to defy my art, yet I need to tell them. How do I explain my terror, or awe and joy? How do I explain that when I sent my husband alone down a corridor to an operating room and laid my dog into the ground, when I saw the great rush of thousands of migrating Snow geese and the rising Super Moon that I knew union with the whole universe? That I saw God?
           From our house, we have a clear view of the eastern sky over trees. We see the moon every night when it's not overcast. But, to watch this rare celestial event, my husband and I went to the beach. Sometimes, to broaden your horizon or change your perspective, you've got to travel. For us, that was about three miles to Popham Beach.
     We've been married ten years which isn't long since we are middle aged. But, a decade is long enough that romance falls by the wayside of living if couples don't work at it. We are old enough that minor things are apt to feel like struggles not worth the hassles. And, unlike when we were younger, we flirt with lack of initiative.
    "Honey, let's go to Popham to see the Super Moon," I suggested a few days in advance. He answered, "It'll be cold." Though we were sitting in our living room, he shivered in advance to emphasize his point. I, on the other hand, had visions of a nighttime picnic on the beach. "Come on," I said. "It's once in a life time." "There's another one in sixteen years," he retorted. "Yes, but it might rain," I answered.
     I remembered that ages ago, a friend had given to me a wicker picnic basket, complete with dinner ware, a bottle opener and table spread. I had never used it, but had stuffed it in a closet, somewhere in our great ark of a house. It would be perfect; now, if only I could find it.
     Remembering that I own things is one thing. finding them is another. It can take days of tearing closets apart, going up and down the cellar stairs, and checking the haunting darkness of outbuildings to find things. And, that's if I can stay on task and remember what I was looking for. So, the lovely, perfectly appointed picnic basket was the first hassle factor to drop off the romance staging plan. Too bad, too because I could almost hear the dry creak of the wicker reeds and feel the soft nap of the throw in my hand. The basket will sit wherever it is waiting for its day, if  by then I remember that I own it.
     I had a bottle of Pear sparkling wine with a pearlesent golden label so pretty it had seemed a shame to mar it with spillage. Dribbles would be inevitable if opened in the dark. I had held onto the special bottle of bubbly for so long waiting for the magic moment to open it that it was probably flat anyway. And, if I didn't take a basket, glasses would be hard to transport without breakage. I know I could have used plastic, but I hate drinking from plastic. It's also not romantic. Item number two to drop from the plan: Pear bubbly.
     Earlier in the day, I had packed the meal. Thankfully, the cold, Tai noodle dish was elegant, but not complicated by the need to keep it hot. The soba noodles rich in chili peppers, cilantro and smokey undertones of sesame oil would give heat enough. 
     My husband has a tremendous metabolism. He must  eat every forty-five minutes or he starts getting antsy. In the beginning of our marriage, when still blinded by love's power to make a woman do most anything, I cooked twenty hours of every twenty four to save him from collapse. Then, I wised up.  The blush was off the rose when I announced that I'd only cook one meal a day, no matter what happened. If he keeled over I would make sure that clause was written into the prenup the next time around. I am sensitive to his jittery state when his hungry horrors set in, though. Sometimes, I cave in and feed him. The moon rise wasn't due for hours after the regular time for feeding the bear. I'd have to do something, or I'd never get him to the beach alive in the dark. 
    The third article to drop from the Super Moon Romance Plan was the picnic dinner. Standing in the kitchen, I plopped the Tai noodles onto a plate and handed him a fork. It was a nice idea, but like sex on the beach, sand in the cold noodles wouldn't have worked. 
     Another thing about my husband is he wakes up very early, so he goes to sleep early. He's nodding off and cheek puffing before the evening news is over. He'll deny this until pigs fly or when the cow jumps over the Super Moon, but it's true. In order to keep him awake, I had to get him out of the house into the chilly March air before it was dark or I'd lose him. He was, after all, the last remaining shred of the Super Moon Romance Plan. 
     Like a lot of people with fast metabolism, my husband doesn't tolerate cold well, unless it's the frostiness that I dish out. We bundled up against the beach breeze and brisk night air then headed out. With time to spare, we walked out to Fox Island, which can only be done when the tide is low. Every year, someone gets stranded out there not realizing that they must get off the rock before the sea closes in around them. When the distress calls come across the Coast Guard radio channel locals say "Yup, someone from away must be out there." I knew that once I had my husband on the island, he would have to wait with me while the sun set. He's got a short attention span and otherwise, might have gotten fidgety waiting for the moon. The molten peach of the setting sun was reflected in every still pool of water. Rhythmic surf left a thin lace of foam on the sand and stirred up a thick musty smell of decay that was delicious. Then, the moon rose.    
     On the far eastern horizon, the straight line between to sea and the sky was broken by a bubble of luminous orange. Swelling as it rose, the Super Moon was everything the media had promised. With it, my heart swelled to bursting and I thought I might cry. Not speaking, I reached for my husband's hand in the dark. I can't imagine life without him and I wanted that moment to last forever.
    Then, his voice of reality said, "Crap. The tide's coming in and we've got to get off the island. We'll break our necks in the dark on these rocks. How are we going to see?" I sighed. From my pocket, I handed him the flashlight I had thought to bring. We headed down the rocks then across the flat sand with the moon to our backs. I wasn't ready to leave, but I did, to be with him, even though he was a mood wrecker.
     But, my husband couldn't be a moon wrecker; it was simply to compelling. I kept stopping to look back at the Super Moon. It was pulling me. I thought of every time I didn't say "I love you," every time I was crabby or in too much of a hurry. I thought of every time something seemed like too much trouble or too big to tackle. I said to myself, "From now on, I'll always........" and a thousand things rushed in to the hole. My husband was power marching to the car, his back to the moon. Finally, way ahead of me, he disappeared into the darkness, just the flashlight beam showing that he was still out there.
     I wanted him to be with me, but I couldn't turn away from the moon. To holler seemed like an offense to the sounds of the night. Like a kid, I tried to walk backward. So, I tripped and fell onto my butt with a thud onto the damp sand. Suddenly, he was there. "Everything okay?" he asked, taking my hand. He had come back for me. "Ya, I'm okay. It's just it's once in a lifetime ya know. It's so beautiful I can't look away. I even tried to walk backward. Don't you wish you could walk backward?" My face was tipped up to the candle colored light of the moon when he kissed me. "You're once in a lifetime. And, none of us can really walk backward," he said and took my hand for home.

     Savor all your once in a lifetimes. Share your songs, your dance, your words and images. You are part of the universe, you are a piece of everything -you are a migrating bird, you are the rising moon.

To see this photo full size and get a better impression of the magnitude of it, double click.

This blog post was the Editor's Pick for Open Salon (http://open.salon.com/cover) March 29, 2011


  1. Lovely post! And I really, really, really like that Snow Geese photo!

  2. Thank you, Nicole MacP. The Snow geese were even more amazing than what I could capture photographicaly, too. The sounds of thier wings and their vocalizing, for example.

  3. I totally understand your post afa timing--I missed the moon on that night but got something even better myself--love the photos!

  4. Barbara Bowen commented on your post in Facebook Photographers and Lovers of Photography.
    Barbara Bowen 8:35am Mar 30

    Nice story Robin, thanks for sharing.

  5. Robin, these photos are absolutely stunning! Wonderful post.

    L in the Southeast
    March 30, 2011 09:10 AM

  6. What gifts are here for all of us. I feel as though I could see and feel all of this beauty and awe with you. Moments of such reverence and grace all described beautifully. Thank you for this.
    March 30, 2011 09:21 AM

  7. I love your fantastic photos and all the info I learn about birds. But I also relish your stories and "take" on life! Very moving, hysterically funny, memorable. I will have to come see your Totman Cove and meet you in person someday! Ellie Davis

  8. Robin,
    Rating it for the photos. Now going back to read.
    Scarlett Sumac
    March 30, 2011 09:39 AM

  9. Ellie, I hope you do look me up one day. Thank you for the read, view and comments, not to mention the compliment! It's great to know you are out there, with the moon and the geese.

  10. Barbara, Lezlie and anna1liese, thank you very much for reading and commenting. You guys mean everything, along with the geese and moon, of course. Oh ya, and did I mention my husband?

  11. Carole Sevilla Brown commented on your post in Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp.
    Carole Sevilla Brown 10:20am Mar 30

    What a wonderful post, Robin! Tweeted and Stumbled :)

  12. Dawn Simmons Fine 6:52am Mar 30

    Absolutely beautiful..made me teary.. Everyone should read this!!

  13. This makes me wish to read Jean de Meun -
    The Romance Of The Rose.

    A. Dante sensed Love moves the Sun and Moon.
    Never walk out upon the glow path on the water.
    Seagulls and other diversity of Nature is Healing.
    Seashore, crushing waves, rhythm, and Harmony.
    What a read with Beautiful Nature Captured Image.
    Nature never bores. Nature entertain Nature Gaud.
    THis is wonderful.
    Ay and on and on.
    Folk go crumble.
    Reread 2 X's too.
    Art James
    March 30, 2011 10:25 AM

  14. So glad you went to Popham beach -- for you and for us!
    Lea Lane
    March 30, 2011 10:25 AM.

  15. Lea, ARt, Dawn and Carole, Gee whiz you guys. Now I'm the one that's getting teary. Thank you all so much. Art, love the poetry. Great associatiion for me to have and thanks double for the double read.

  16. Robin,

    Your story made me cry!!! It was beautiful and so were the photos.

    Love ya,


  17. You got such wonderful captures of the supermoon.
    Winners all.

  18. aaamazing photos !!Makes me understand what patience you have to get them.Great story too.bmc

  19. Fantastic post, Robin! I find myself eagerly following your nimble roaming mind and saying to myself, keep on writing! The moon is gorgeous and the flock of snow geese taking off, just stunning!

  20. Indrani, bmc and Hilke, thank you. To have people reading and responding is so rewarding! Hilke, you are a terrific photographer and a person with a discerning intellect, so I especially appreciate your thougths. And, bmc, you are correct,it takes a great deal of patience, study and practice. And sometimes, none of that works, either!

  21. Wow! Gorgeous photos and great read.
    Lisa Barlow
    March 30, 2011 10:51 AM

  22. Wow! This is just so nice.
    Jeanette DeMain
    March 30, 2011 11:19 AM

  23. There is a romantic in every relationship, and a mood wrecker want- to -be too. It changes it seems over time, who does what. It seems you have it all figured out. I love how this all comes together with the moon, a huge theme in my life for some reason and something that just happens to come every month for other people. Gorgeous photos, just wonderful.
    rita shibr
    March 30, 2011 11:30 AM

  24. Oh Robin ... you write so beautifully ... thank you for sharing this with us. Tight {{{HUGS}}} from a slowly warming England ;-)
    Wednesday at 3:36pm

  25. apology to come back after I said I'd go?
    I bumped into Rita S. Yes We have Moon.
    WE all have the Moon in commonwealths.
    PS's a dangerous commonwealth. Bakers?
    They toss you/me in jail If we prove Fraud.
    Predator Lenders are in Waynesbouro's PA.
    DoJ just ignore.
    You be better to`
    Petition the Moon.
    Then - Post death?
    No fear - Horizons.
    Crooks may happily befriended.
    The Devil's cohorts haul to Sheol.
    Pluto's forces and principle demote?
    The so-called "elite" demotion is sty?

    The old classic lit tells the truth best.
    I still say that this post is anti-putrid.
    Beautiful. Beauty is Truth. That awe.
    Art James
    March 30, 2011 11:43 AM

  26. Brava! Your photos are amazing! Everyone is talking about the visuals when it comes to the Super Moon, but there was something else, which you also captured. You could feel it in the air. It shimmered inside us. It was more than romantic, it made you appreciate the love, if you were lucky enough to be with someone you love. My husband shares some things with yours, including going down a long dark prostate corridor, a weird shower cap on his head, that made me cry. And so, when we were together, holding hands and looking at that super moon, all the gratitude and love we felt for each other zoomed from the moon and into our bodies. Thanks for capturing it all so well!
    Pam Malone
    March 30, 2011 11:51 AM

  27. you ARE a photographer - these are the most resemblant photos I've seen, as most of us can't catch it in that moment of seltzer bubbling you describe so well. Loved the narrative too, but admit the thought did occur 'it's so much easier to be single sometimes'. ;)
    Gabby Abby
    March 30, 2011 01:22 PM

  28. Stunning in many ways...~r
    Joan H.
    March 30, 2011 03:50 PM

  29. This was one of your most beautiful and touching pieces...Magnificently Moonstruck! I, even went out in the middle of the night to view the Super Moon and found it breathtaking.

  30. A moonscape with snowgeese...
    March 30, 2011 08:15 PM

  31. So beautiful, touching, and funny...Thank you for sharing the gorgeous tangerine moon!

    Your last line is sheer poetry "You are part of the universe, you are a piece of everything -you are a migrating bird, you are the rising moon."
    clay ball
    March 31, 2011 08:13 AM

  32. Gabby Abby,
    Many thanks for the comment re: I AM a photographer. I took those shots for myself (all my work is for myself, truly), then I thought well there are thousands of photographers out there with better equipment than mine, better technique, who will take shots better than anything I can do, so I'll stuff these in a digital box. But then,, I thought what the hell, it was MY moon, mine and the Mood Wrecker's. No one saw it the way I did right then, so I'll use them anyway. But, as it turns out, maybe mine were a little special after all. Certainly for me, and apparently for you, too. I'm very happy about that. Thank you.

  33. This is such a wonderful post & absolutely beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing!

  34. Wayne, Thank you for the read, view and comment. Plus, the compliments. Delightful for me to see that people are reading and taking the time to commment.

  35. These pictures are just unbelievably beautiful. Thank you so much for taking them and posting them.

    Your comparison of stored emotion, waiting for the right moment, to the swallowed carbonated seltzer water is so clever and well written, and the following paragraph nails it home. The rest of the post is by turns insightfully clever and amusingly clever, until that wonderful moment when you fell on your butt and love triumphed. Great post!
    April 01, 2011 05:10 PM

  36. That was very moving and genuine. You are a unique person. Keep it up, kiddo. Ronnie

  37. The pictures were great, but the story was fantastic, Thanks

  38. Robin, such a moving essay. And the photos are lovely, all of them.I couldn't get my husband out of the house to see it. Although once, in bed, during a night of full moon, I said I wished I was out walking in it. And he said "So let's go!" and we did, walking through our woods. It was lovely. Do you know how to find the Gibson Girl in the moon? Once you find her you will always see her, so maybe you don't want to. She is beautiful in the Super Moon.Love,Jo

  39. Jo, I DOOO know how to find the Gibson girl and always see her there, smiling. I love that, too. And thank you for the read and lovely compliments.

  40. awesome moon shots, must have had that on some shutter speed like minus?

  41. Fantastic, like i was there with you! I have experienced it at sea many times and always like the first time---spectacular!

  42. Joe, Jo, Ronnie, Tommy and Den,Thanks to you all for the reads, views and comments, plus, wonderful compliments, too!

  43. Lovely piece, Robin!

  44. Jim Walker commented on your link.
    Jim wrote: "Robin, I only wish I could wax so elegant. The article was geat, and so were the photos."

  45. Roberta Lane commented on your link.
    Roberta wrote: "Bird Lady - Wonderful as always. The photos and the blog were lovely."

  46. Robin Wallace commented on your link.
    Robin wrote: "Robin I think that it is great that all your hard work is being recognized! Congratulations and keep clicking that camera!"

  47. Paula Joanne Rice commented on your link.
    Paula wrote: "Congratulations! I read your story..it's wonderful!"

  48. Oh my goodness..... I love this story. I can so relate to your preparations for the adventure and have a husband who can be totally not on the same wave length as you, but with one movement, gesture and comment make you fall in love with him all over again.
    Chrissie Pissie
    April 13, 2011 03:52 PM