Wow – how about that full moon last Saturday May 5th – Cinco de mayo? My plan for that evening to was to go to the Biltmore to see Willis Earl Beal (check him out on YouTube) but the show was sold out and standing in a lineup for 2 or 3 hours in hopes of getting in just didn’t entice me.
Besides, there was Plan B: this moon that promised to be bigger and better than anything we’ve seen or will see in … how long? Hundreds of years? The best moon I ever saw was in Alberta one long ago winter. There was something about refraction or reflection or something – astronomers could probably explain – that distorted the image of this moon to gargantuan proportions. It seemed to take up the entire horizon. I was driving with friends and there it was, coming up over a frozen rise between Edmonton and Calgary. We had to stop the car and just gape. It was truly awesome – awe-inspiring, awe-inducing – gob-smacking awesome.
So when my friend suggested I photograph this cinco de mayo moon I was only moderately interested. I figured I’d seen the best moon that ever was, so how could this be better? But I have no photographs of that other moon, and even if my memory is accurate, it has become an anecdote at best, a hallucination at worst.
I decided to get up on my roof and – pardon the card-playing reference – shoot the moon. It was a cold night if you recall. Freezing cold. Windy. My building is only 3 stories high and the view to the east is blocked by much higher (and classier) condos. But I packed my gear and climbed a vertical metal ladder leading to the roof. When I pushed up the hatch that opens to the sky and had to climb over its raised edges I got right in touch with a bad case of vertigo. I was almost nauseated with – what is that feeling? Terror? Yeah. A visceral, gut-grabbing sensation that sometimes freezes me in my tracks, sometimes gets me laughing.
Hysterically. I have to talk out loud to myself and stay very very focused, keep away from the edges of the roof.
I set the camera on the tripod and prepared to wait. But it was so cold, so windy. And I’d drunk several cups of hot tea in preparation. So soon enough I had to go back down to my apartment. Repeat above procedures, sans gear. The moon was due at 8:35 PM. It may have appeared elsewhere, but I couldn’t get a decent shot of it until around 9:30 PM. By this time I’d had the chance to take some test shots of the horizon and my camera and I were in conflict; I couldn’t get a good focus and when I did the camera wouldn’t fire. Up on the roof, waiting for the moon, I sent love to my old film camera, a completely manual, responsive machine that, when you are skilled, gives the best results in most circumstances. And while I was waxing nostalgic and even contemplating going down to my apartment again, to retrieve my film camera, mother Moon was waxing too, and beginning to show herself on the urban horizon. I didn’t get much, but what I got I’m happy to share.
Did you wait up for the moon? Did you take photos?