November 24, 2007
. . . “everything
turns into something else,and slips away . . .
(these leaves are Thingish with moondrool
and i’m ever so very little afraid.”)
— E.E. Cummings, 1894-1962
Moon Setting Over Banner, Wyoming, 7:00 a.m., November 24, 2007
At the beginning of this month I wrote about the “charged image” of the full moon that sparked the thinking that gave rise to the novel I am working on. Two weeks away from the start of my trip, I was at a crossroads, finishing up one annus mirabilis and beginning another. As I lit a candle at vespers that night I believed I had the confidence to come to Wyoming for a month and write toward the last line I have always had. I knew that since I would be at Jentel for one full month, I would see one full moon. I determined the date, and marked it in my calendar.
I knew the full moon was coming last night, but I didn’t know when moonrise was. I got back to work yesterday after the Thanksgiving interlude, producing more than I had any day here yet. It seems I’ve found my rhythm, refined my process for the time that I will be here. I worked all day, and about 4:00 I went over to the residence for something to eat. When I was finished at about 4:45 I put my shoes on in the mudroom, wound a scarf around my face against the 11º air, and walked out into the courtyard. I looked up, and there was the full moon rising between the two grassy hills that tower over the visual artists’ building. The setting sun opposite bathed the hills in a golden glow. The moon climbed fast while I watched. This is what I came here to look at, I thought. This is what I came here to write about.
I spent the next fourteen hours moonstruck. I worked all night in my studio, breaking periodically to walk out and just look at the moon. I wrote a long exercise for creating character emotions. I wrote two long letters to friends. I read forty-five pages in a book about the psychology of grieving. On one of my trips back to the residence I encountered an antelope moving along the side of the building and down toward the creek. Another time I saw the headlights of not one but two cars snaking along the dirt road that leads to the property north of Jentel. The sound of the engines seemed alien and weird. I think the coyotes thought so too, howling up in the hills while I stood there.
If there is such a thing as moon drool, I saw it last night. The aspen and spruce trees that dot the property were Thingish with it, sparkling in the moonlight like stars. The moon was so bright that real stars were rather hard to see.
I slept a little between three and five. By that time the moon had arced over the residence and was shining directly into my bedroom window, penetrating the curtain drawn against it. I got up then, made coffee, and got my knitting. The yarn I am working with now is a golden earth-toned brown, far more textured and interesting than it seemed to be in the wrapper. The sky was beginning to lighten and the color of the moonlight to deepen as I worked, the sun coming up where I’d seen the moon rise the evening before to bathe it once again with streaks of gold.
If I see nothing else awesome or amazing the rest of the time I am here, I will have seen enough.
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