Last night a great orange moon rose up out of the St. John’s River and drifted up the sky. The spectacle was enough to make some us quit checking Facebook on our small screens and behold, for a few minutes, the lovely night.
Then it was back to the small screens, where one might receive regular updates on the moon’s course and appearance all across the land. I’m not criticizing here, or being particularly facetious. Turns out that the moon was just as beautiful in Wichita, Kan., and Ellensburg, Wash., as it was here. That’s good to know. Sometimes you think the only thing that binds us together is links to pithy columns in the New York Times, or endlessly forwarded pet videos. Then the moon comes along and reminds us that we all have something deeper in common.
People always try to take pictures of such a moon, and the results are always disappointing. Rule number one: Your cell-phone camera is not up to the task. Don’t even try. My wife did anyway, and I love her for it. She blithely rejects my cynical view that if you must photograph the moon, as opposed to simply appreciating its slow and soundless beauty, you’re going to need a telephoto lens and a tripod and some knowledge of how to expose for it correctly. You’ll also need to be set up and waiting at precisely the right time. The window is short.
But what’s the fun in that? Better to just stroll along the river, or wander out on the patio, and be surprised by a rare gift from the heavens. The magic is in the moment, and even the best photograph will not do it justice.