I wrote this in January of 2010. Given my recent experience with the approaching full moon I am putting it up for view again. I hope you enjoy “Lunar Laughter”!
As it does every month, the full moon gains control over me through mechanisms that I can’t identify and do not understand. With great trepidation I warily watch the calendar as each day passes bringing me closer to the trap that brings brightness to the night skies of these otherwise deep, dark woods. Like coyotes under a full moon during breeding season I am inexplicably altered for a period of about four days. I am already bearded so any resemblance to a werewolf would not be obvious. But other behavioral traits, a general lack of focus, persistent tapping of my fingers, nervous laughter, and strangely wild dreams dominate my personal landscape. It is as if there are unknown secrets that fill the night air.
Just two days ago I stepped outside onto our deck to grab a breath of cold vivid air. This often helps me sleep. The moon was just rising, not quite full, and I could hear distant coyotes chorusing in a disorienting pattern. Sharp yips, screeches, and barks mixed in with mournful wailing hung in the night air like a note from a piano that is held by the foot pedal designed to sustain a musical tone. The sounds echoed back and forth inside my head. The cries ricocheted from temporal lobe to the medulla oblongata. Sounds, at other times held as sweet, were shrill. The cold air of the dark night stood in sharp contrast to the clamor that rang in my ears. And just as suddenly as it all started there was a deafening silence. The night suddenly seemed colder than its actual five below zero. As I slipped back through the sliding glass door that leads back into the house the hair stood on the back of my neck, and for no apparent reason.
The next day I was particularly edgy. My stomach churned with each unsettling thought. I could feel the pull of the moon; it felt as if gravity forced fluid up against each cell wall in my body like the waves of a high tide splashing against a sea wall. Last month had two full moons. This was a particularly unsettling time. It’s not as if I was paralyzed; each day had a routine of tasks that were completed despite these distractions.
That evening I took a walk along the edge of the forest. Bright moon shadows danced against the snow covered field as a breeze blew through the tree tops. For the first time since the full moon period started I felt energized rather than distressed. The moonlight, exaggerated by its reflection on the snow, made almost every thing visible in that old field. I could see individual stems of goldenrod still standing despite the many winter storms that had passed this way. Brambles, still capable of cutting through cloth, stood erect; waiting for the next victim. Tracks, melted by warm days, took on oblong shapes making it difficult to determine their origin. A lone white pine sapling, perhaps a pioneer of a future forest, displayed its upright trunk with rosettes of branches evenly spaced along the tapered stem. And this time the chorus of coyotes, sounding in the not so distant woods, did not resound a cacophony but rather a melody of sharps and flats, somehow blending into the overall balance of my surroundings.
I stopped to think about why my experience in this nearly full moon was different. I was wired but not on edge. This experience was very intense but it did not grate at my nerves. I looked up. The moon filled a corner of the horizon. It was nearly white. Dark craters formed the familiar face. For the first time I noticed that this face had a Mona Lisa smile; subtle and amusing. The smile of someone who knows a secret that you do not. I laughed out loud. And the longer I looked at this smirk the louder I laughed. The man in the moon had a secret! The joke was on me.
When I stopped laughing, and that took quite a while, I noticed the call of the coyotes had become incredibly excited. They seemed whipped into a frenzy; loud cries, mournful howls, and almost silly laughter.
It seemed as if I had just learned what they had known for generations. Perhaps that was the secret the man-in-the-moon was keeping. Perhaps I was now in the know.
I sat down on an old wall comprised of schist stone etched by a hundred years of lichen growth. The coyotes had now stopped their wails. I again looked at the moon; this time full of wonder.
The moon stared back at me. It looked wise. A wisdom formed over millions and millions of years. The coyotes cried again in the distance, summoning the connection that we all share. And I returned the call.
Written for www.wildramblings.com in January 2010.