Monday, October 18, 2010

Outside At Night

When I was young, I remember being outside a lot at night. I can't explain this. I have no idea where my parents were or how I managed to be outside, alone, unsupervised and completely happy. But I treasure the memories. 
I remember staring at the moon it seems night after night, season after season, noting its progress, its full glory, its poignant diminishment. I loved to watch the stars grow brighter as the night darkened. 

I remember walking home from babysitting and watching the moon edge out from behind a glowing cloud. Looking up invited me to dream, to wonder, to hope. .

One of my night time out door memories took place at the end of the summer before I was ten. My sister and I decided to camp out on our patio which was about thirty yards from our house at the back of the first yard. I must explain that our yard had two sections, the first yard was where the house and garage were set. The second yard which was a flight of stone steps down, separated by a stone wall. The patio was at the edge of the first yard and it had a fence around it to keep us from falling into the second yard. 

It was hard to fall asleep outside.  It was so much cooler in the hammock because the air was underneath me too, and I felt cold. After my sister fell asleep, I stared at the moon, rising white and whiter above me.  Summer was ending, soon school would start and we would no longer be free to linger all night outside. I still remember how the crescent shape hung there in the deep blue of the sky above our second yard, how the trees looked shady and thick in its clear, mysterious light, how the tree frogs peeped all around and the minty scent of my mother's gardens not far away.  I remember wanting to memorize the moment.  It meant something to me, alone with the moon as I was. It meant stillness and the scary wonder that comes with life's transitions. But the moon I felt was a constant, its whiteness such a perfect contrast to the mid-blue summer night.

I didn't know that we would move the next year and that I would never again have the leisure to camp on that patio and watch the moon rise above me.

I'm not sure why I am writing this. It may be because I wish I had the time or the spunk to linger outdoors under the stars. It may be because I've learned that life leads us across bridges, some of these lovely and compelling where we can see the better place ahead, some so high and steep we can't see what's beyond, many of those bridges leaving us to remember what we can no longer reach.

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