Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon

By Joyce Hollyday

It was a night of nature at her height of magnificence—and depth of ferocity. On August 30, the intentional community at Kirkridge gathered on the ridge with a panoramic eastern view of the Delaware River Valley, for a Once-in-a-Blue-Moon Party. Cedar and Isaac, our youngest members, hung a colorful welcome poster and decorated with blue-balloon moons.

When the bonfire settled into coals, we cooked “hobo stew”—a combination of ground chicken, potatoes, carrots, and onions in foil that (in a hamburger version) was a favorite of my sisters and me during family camping trips—best enjoyed with lots of ketchup. Isaac, who recently won the blue ribbon in the junior cookie-baking contest at the local farm show, made our dessert: a cake with craters, topped with blue frosting, surrounded by star-shaped, bright-yellow-iced sugar cookies.

We tried to guess exactly where in the broad expanse of horizon before us the moon would appear. She was cunning—slipping up far more toward north than we expected. She was stunning—a huge, bright orange face peeking out from behind blue whisps of cloud. I read aloud a Mary Oliver poem: “[T]he moon rises, so beautiful it makes me shudder…” We sang “Blue Moon” and “Moon River.” The “blue supermoon” slowly climbed the sky and flooded the valley with her dazzling white light.

A blue moon is rare, happening when two full moons occur in the same month. A combination of blue moon and supermoon, when the moon is at its closest point to the earth in its orbit, is even rarer. The next one will occur in 2037.

Gazing at the gorgeous celestial spectacle, I couldn’t help thinking of my sisters, both living on the coast of South Carolina, as Idalia bore down on them that night. They experienced high winds and brief power outages, but other people in the storm’s path suffered overwhelming losses. What was an object of awe for us was a not-so-welcome sight to them, as the closeness of the full moon caused higher-than-usual tides and greater flooding.

Hurricanes this devastating used to happen once in a blue moon. But like wildfires and drought, they are increasingly part of life on our planet, due to the climate catastrophe we have brought upon ourselves. My prayer that night on the ridge was that each and every one of us will do all that we can to see that Cedar and Isaac and all the children we love get to witness the next blue supermoon—and the one following, and the one after that—under a clear, clean, and sheltering sky.

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