The last time I watched a total lunar eclipse from start to finish I was encased in blankets in 17 degrees Fahrenheit on our tiny deck in Pittsburgh with a perfect view between two tall evergreens. Every half hour I ducked into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, as much to keep my hands warm as my insides.
This was better.
It was our last night in San Cristobal. We strolled the malecon one last time, had a pizza and a couple of beers at Calypso and got a ride back to EV with the crew of a large and fancy sailing yacht. We both dozed in the cockpit but I had the foresight to set an alarm for what I hoped was the correct time and when I woke up Jack had gone to bed and I was chilly and damp from the heavy dew. I fetched a blanket and parked myself in the same corner of the cockpit where we stand watch at sea and that gives us a protected but full view of half the sky.
As the earth’s shadow crept across the moon I thought of the ancient people who watched the moon disappear and wondered what they’d done to incur the wrath of the gods, and what they could do to appease them. I thought of early thinkers who didn’t succumb to fear but rather set about learning why the planets move the way they do and why the rivers flood sometimes. I thought of how many centuries it has taken to discover the patterns of this complex universe and how our understanding deepens with time.
The moon turned the red of molten glass and I thought of what it took for Jack and me to get here, the years of frugal living, of standing in a store holding a shirt or a pair of shoes or a gadget and asking, “do we want this or do we want a boat?” I thought of how we kept the dream alive for each other when life events and the economy and our own flagging resolve sometimes conspired against us.
I called down to Jack and he stumbled outside to have a look through the binoculars at the detail on the lunar surface. “Beautiful” he pronounced, “thanks” and he stumbled back to bed.
I kept watching the slow-motion celestial drama as the shadow moved off and the moon turned brilliant white again and I thought of how far we’ve come in the two years since we plunked down nearly the entire profit from the sale of our house to buy the complex machine that has brought us to this magical place. I thought of the magical places yet to come on this journey as I went inside and joined Jack below. Tomorrow we sail to Santa Cruz and I need some sleep.
Yep, this is better.