Blame the moon

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Len and I sat back in our brand new bright red Formula Firebird with its T-bar roof, viewing the night sky.

Len and I sat back in our brand new bright red Formula Firebird with its T-bar roof, viewing the night sky. 

The summer of 1978 in New Brunswick had been a hot and humid one and, on this night in particular, the sky was a picture of black velvet and sparkling stars.  But something very strange was rising out of the woods across the road, and the summer heat seemed to have been replaced by a chill wind. 

An enormous and dazzling light radiated through the trees, illuminating every stem and every leaf, not to mention the spider webs that were suspended among the trees.  We were seized by a fearful unease: wondering if we should call the authorities, get out of the car to investigate, or beat a hasty retreat. 

Suddenly, the huge light began to levitate, and what made it so eerie was that it ascended without a sound and seemed to be aiming its bright beam right at our car.  My eyes, like saucers, were incapable of blinking, and my heart thudded unsteadily in my chest, because ‘the thing' was beginning to change from a soft yellow colour to a creamy white, and was just about to break out over the trees.  There was only one conclusion to draw: it had to be a UFO, and we were going to be taken up. 

Len shifted the Firebird into reverse just as the huge orb broke over the trees and, instead of little men emerging from a flying saucer to take us prisoner, a splendid full moon revealed itself; so near we could have reached out and taken a moon rock home as a souvenir. 

I blame the moon for masquerading as a UFO. 

As a child, I was always intrigued that the moon seemed to follow our car whenever our family took a vacation.  No matter which car window I peeped out of, we seemed to be pulling the moon behind.  In later years I learned the moon acts as a magnet on the earth, and is actually pulling on the earth, moreso than the earth pulling on it.  In my memory, the moon I was accustomed to seeing in British Columbia had a much harder job to do than it does here on the Northern Peninsula:  it had to climb the coastal mountains and then peek over the summit, shedding a broad light down along the Fraser River valley, and illuminating fields, farms, and fences. 


Although the moon is always synchronized with the rotation of the Earth, it shows us the same face.  It is the brightest object in the sky, after the sun, but its surface is actually very dark.  Its prominence in the sky and its regular cycle of phases has, since ancient times, made the moon an important cultural influence on language, calendars, art and mythology.  Its gravitational influence produces ocean tides and creates a minuscule lengthening of the day.  Also, it is the only celestial body that has been reached by man. 


A nurse in Calgary once told me that there are more births around the time of the full moon, and suggested that people are also more prone to strange behaviour at that time. 

Since moving to Ship Cove, I've seen how the moon affects the tides, as well as sea life, and I know from living by the ocean that a full moon is the best time to gather mussels.  Recently, as Len and I crossed Eastern Brook Bridge at night, I wondered why there were flashlights bobbing in the darkness alongside the bridge.  "Full for smelts," Len remarked. 

Last week, Len came down with a particularly virulent infection on the right side of his throat and in his right ear, and has been fighting it with pain killers, penicillin, and his mom's homemade pea soup.

After a recent appointment with a doctor to get a prescription, he stopped at Tim Horton's to speak to his friend, Leonard Tucker.  "Leonard!" he called, leaning across the counter, "I'm not myself, how are you?"  Leonard Tucker leaned across the counter and admitted he wasn't feeling too good himself; he had an infection on the right side of his throat and in his right ear.  They sat down to compare notes and it turned out they were both struck down by the same infection the day the full moon appeared.

So, when it comes to strange and unexplainable occurrences, I'm left to conclude that, if you don't know who or what to blame when things go awry, blame the moon.  


Organizations: Tim Horton's

Geographic location: New Brunswick, British Columbia, Fraser River Calgary Ship Cove

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Recent comments

  • Sister Bea
    November 23, 2011 - 12:37

    Beautifully written story that I enjoyed reading (and I'm not a reader).