My lunar eclipse walkabout

MAY 05 04

As fate would have it, I almost forgot about the lunar eclipse, engrossed in doing some writing. When I remembered, there was about four minutes to go before the end of totality. I rushed out into the garden, with all the lack of caution for sudden garden accidents as I'd been telling myself to avoid all afternoon, an afternoon that may be summed up in a haiku:


dwarf beans prostrated

before snail slime trail through hail

musty smell of earth


The earlier storm clouds had dispersed, there had been lightning, but now it was calm, the stars were out and bright, but I couldn't see any eclipsed moon. When I realised it had not long risen and so was obscured by houses I rushed indoors, threw a big coat on and dashed out into the street, the seconds ticking away. Walked briskly down the road until at last peeking over a roof was the moon with about 20 seconds of totality to go. I was relieved, I don't like to miss them. But now I had to find a place to watch the crescent reappear without dawdling like a dodgy-looking geezer on a street corner, most people unaware or uninterested that there was an eclipse happening. No-one about. Radio news no mention of it, just bloody Blair and 'War on Terror', these clip-clop Dobbin blinkers that make the news nothing new at all.

So to continue my eclipse watching I was forced to follow streets that led straight to the moon, as this was the only way I could see it as it was still too low to be visible over the houses otherwise. As I was walking down a street not far from my house that I had never in my life walked down before, I thought to myself that we get so used to our well-worn path that we hardly notice any more that our lives are hemmed in by our own choice to just a handful of selected routes and we rarely depart from them. I got a real sense in following the moon, now with a bright white lower lip breaking out into a smile, that fate truly was taking me on a journey, since all that was required here was that I keep the moon ahead of me and in sight. I saw a woman dawdling at the end of the street, where it turned. I assumed she was looking at the moon and there might be a conversation in order about its beauty, but realised as I approached that she was just a mad woman who loiters on street corners at night and from her position the moon was hidden by the houses. Turned the corner, momentarily moonless, and then another, and ended up approaching a narrow railway bridge, just the kind of place to be knifed by a man from the shadows I thought to myself, is this what fate has in mind?

No man in the shadows. Walked along further, conscious that for the first time in years I was approaching the bottom of the street where an ex-girlfriend used to live, who I used to come and visit on a long bus journey many moons ago. Just as I think of it now, I remember that in fact I fell in love with her during a lunar eclipse. Hah, the things we forget. How much more convenient it would have been, it struck me dawdling there gazing at the street sign, had I lived just an eclipsed moon walk away from her back then. I had come to the end of my journey, I turned and headed back home, occasionally looking behind me like someone you should be suspicious of, after all, who goes out just to look at the moon?