Blue Moon, a full moon that is not timed to the regular monthly pattern, an extra full moon that occurs about every two or three years. Popular usage defines a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month, but it is actually a little more complicated. It is the third full moon in a season with four full moons. Metaphorically a blue moon is used to describe the rarity of an event, as in “once in a Blue Moon”.
I first became aware of the phenomena of a Blue Moon in July of 1996 when I had a Blue Moon experience during a true seasonal Blue Moon. I was riding my bike to Chicago in the first ever Twin Cities to Chicago Aids Ride, leaving on the eve of a Blue Moon. I had fund raised over $10,000, and was Rider Number 1 in the event. I sat on the boards of several HIV/AIDS service organizations that would benefit from the event. I purchased a used three-speed bike and was off on the adventure and experience of a lifetime. It was nothing short of a Blue Moon experience. The night before we left I took a small, framed print of a young child reaching for the moon, a Kiki Suarez piece, off my wall. I took a sharpie and wrote “My Blue Moon” on the back of the print and wrote a note to Dan Pollata, a gay man who conceived of the Aids Bike Rides, bringing thousands of fundraising dollars to HIV and Aids service organizations. I wrote a note to Dan, telling him that doing this ride was the opportunity of a lifetime for me, colliding with a Blue Moon, a rare event. I tucked the print inside the note.
I love the moon, a full moon, gibbous moon or crescent moon. They all delight me. Most of all I love the Harvest Moon, best enjoyed at a bonfire in Farmington MN. I will miss this quintessential experience this October 4th! I am enthralled with the space program, watching each and every shuttle blast off and return to Earth. I was filled with envy when Christa McAuliffe was chosen to go into space, if only I had been a teacher, it could have been me. I envied what she would see, what she would experience, the perspective of the world I imagined she would return with. A Blue Moon experience to be sure. The envy vanished and I was left with nothing but sadness that cold January morning as Challenger imploded. It was January of 1986; I was working at Helene Curtis, managing their data and telecommunications systems. I was also the programming director for the Midwest Telecommunications Association, a group that met monthly for educational purposes. I got it in my head that I was going to bring John Glenn to one of our spring meetings to talk about technology. It was simple actually; I just called his office, and made the request. The next thing I knew I was introducing him to our organization at the May meeting. He brought Jim Lovell along! A Blue Moon experience.
I love the twilight moon that greets me every morning this time of year, hanging in the deep blue sky. The next real Blue Moon will take place on November 21, 2010, but if you go by the popular definition the next Blue Moon will take place this December on the 2nd and the 31st. As folklore would have it when there is a full Blue Moon, the moon has a face and talks to those in its light. I will be a lucky girl!
I was to have another Blue Moon experience, a 6-week medical mission trip to Northern India, providing basic medical care to Tibetan’s living in exile. My Blue Moon, Dharamsala. I couldn't wait. When my physician told me I could not go, I was heart broken but I put on a brave façade. I tried to wrap my mind around accepting the decision in a matter of fact manner. I spent hours looking for private tours to India that would be safer for my intestinal health. This kept me busy, looking for an alternative, but the sadness situated itself inside me and privately I couldn't shake it. I spent most of my summer morning walks thinking about India, the service work I wanted to do and seeing Little Lhasa. My Blue Moon experience, gone, vanished, never to be had! I struggled with accepting the loss and fantasized about taking the trip. I consumed my self with these thoughts mostly just past dawn, the moon gone and sun coming up. The sun coming up always feels like a defining moment for me. But recently I am out under the twilight moon, an equally defining moment! I am keenly aware of its waxing and waning, the ever-changing phases of the moon. Most mornings I have to pinch myself just so I know it is real, this breath taking sky, dark and deep blue, the moon hanging in the balance, stars bright and the twinkling lights of the Cathedral’s steeple.
I love the drama of the pre-dawn sky, changing every day! Wednesday morning the beautiful conjunction of the waning crescent Moon with Venus made for a photogenic scene in the pre-dawn sky. It makes me gasp and I have overwhelming gratitude for my paternal genes that get me up so early. This morning, a sliver of almost nothing I had to work hard to find the moon, hovering low in the east, just above the horizon, Venus high above, totally different than the morning before. I actually don’t know if it was Venus, I am just guessing. I am not a student of Astronomy and could not identify a Constellation if I tried. I long to see the Beehive Cluster, maybe I have and I don’t even know it. I have a sort of Orson Welles history with the elements of the sky.
When I was young my family spent a week every summer at a rustic resort in the Brained area of MN. The cabin we rented had a television, a real treat since we didn’t have T.V. at home. This particular summer, probably in the mid 1960’s there was some kind of solar eclipse taking place during one of our days at the cabin. I heard about it on the T.V. I was terrified as I learned that looking at the sun during the event might cause blindness. Viewers were told not to look at the sun without some kind of protective wear, or a shoebox contraption with a pinhole for viewing. I had neither so I took cover. While the rest of my family headed for the lake or the golf course I stayed in the cabin, closing the blinds of every window. I took the egg timer from the kitchen and hid in a closet for over an hour. It felt like the end of the world, as I knew it. The rest of my family would loose their vision. I would be the only one still able to see. How would I get everyone home, I didn’t know how to drive? I worried about the next eclipse, how would I be forewarned without a television? I thought the sun and the moon were evil elements of the sky, powerful enough to cause the loss of vision. It would be years before my romance began.
These early autumn mornings have given me pause and reminded me that there is a Blue Moon in every day. Every day brings an event, an experience, or an exchange that is Blue Moon in nature, over the top so to speak. As I have realized the true reality of my life, that each day holds something spectacular, I find the loss of India slightly tempered. It does not matter if it is a true Blue Moon; each moon is my Blue Moon. Each day holds rare moments. I am still grieving the loss of opportunity; especially the opportunity to provide service to Tibetan’s in exile but it feels less huge and less consuming. I don’t know when my sadness will be gone, not a morning goes by that I don’t think about India. But it seems like the idea of a having a Blue Moon every day is compelling enough to revel in what I do have in the quiet of dawn.