By Bob Grindle
There were moments when, as a young grammar school student, my attention would drift far from the lesson being taught. It didn’t take much…a bird flying past a window, a cloud shapeshifting against a blue sky, the steady droning sound of the class’s 20 gallon aquarium or the rainy day smell of a class of nearly 40 kids all trying to shake or shiver or stamp themselves dry, and sometimes just thinking about running across a summer field and down the hill to the old gravel pit. A fifth grade geography or history or English lesson didn’t stand a chance against the fresh, youthful pull of an imagination in full wild horses racing across the high plains state of mind. Despite the teacher’s concerns expressed to my parents that I was too easily distracted and not living up to some lofty, hoped for or imagined potential, thoughts about bicycle trips down to the river or an upcoming family vacation or some recent exploration of a nearby abandoned factory would still fill that enormous etch-a-sketch screen that lurks on stage in the theater of each of our minds. Such thoughts gently nudged our teacher, Mrs. Krammer’s, curricular efforts off the stage…all but one effort, the class’s daily trip to the school library.
The school library was a place where a young imagination could rope-swing out over the deep canyon of youthful optimism without hearing the gentle gasps of those who might prefer a bit less mystery in how their days, or lives unfold. I’d like to think that Mrs. Krammer grasped full well the pure magic of her sorcery as she led the class down hallway for a half hour of rather jittery library discovery time followed by another half hour of always rapt and quiet story time. As I sit here looking out through an open window into an early July rainfall that transforms every perception of the surrounding woodland…at least to human eyes…I am reflecting on the 50th anniversary trip my wife and I just completed. There is a small part of me that knows that a fifth grade teacher—by guiding her classes to understand that they can learn from the stories of others—owns a tiny piece of the success of our story.
There is a relentless and inexorable edge and complexity to the passage of time. The voyage of life, as poets and writers and painters have described and depicted it, is far more beautiful and mysterious and frightening and filled with more wonders and danger than any charlatan’s promise or travel brochure could possibly embrace, and as my wife and I take stock of the vessel that has carried us down this river of life these many years, we chuckle to note that perhaps the boat is in better shape than the sailors. And so it is with humor and excitement that we both look forward to many more years of this journey, crossing summer fields and snowy roads, our minds always looking up while keeping our eyes focused on the path forward.
Looking up into the early morning and after sunset skies has been a test of patience and persistence through much of these last couple of months. If the skies weren’t completely hazed by smoke blown in from forest fires to our north, they were usually cloudy and threatening rain. But perhaps July and August will bring better viewing, and the three full Moons that frame these two Summer months—that’s right, three full Moons in two months—will have a way of shining through whatever nature puts in their way. In fact, the full Sturgeon Moon of August 1st and the full Blue Moon of August 30th will both be Super Moons because the Moon will be at its nearest to the Earth of the entire year. As twilight fades an hour after sunset on Wednesday, August 30, cast a look to the east-southeast and the full Super Moon, the second full Moon of August, will be rising with Saturn, slightly above and to the right. Of course, if you’re anything like me, all full Moons are super.
But, while full Moons get more than their share of attention and romantic poetry, they tend to overwhelm the smaller details of night time sky watching. The nights of July 18-20, half an hour after sunset, a little before 9 pm, will treat sky watchers to a jewler’s case of small details as the young and delicate waxing crescent Moon passes by Mars, Regulus, Venus and Mercury as it sets into the western sky.
The rain has ended and the chorus of birds reminds me that our planet is full of communities, full of neighborhoods, full of promise and beauty and full of opportunity to help care for it. Be well, enjoy the next couple of summer months in our gem of a neighborhood…and maybe visit your local library.