Friday, August 31, 2012

A Blue Moon to End the Summer

The first drinks: Blue Moon martinis.
It was a Blue Moon tonight, the first since New Year's Eve, 2009, and the last until July of 2015. Neil Armstrong, who died last Saturday, was memorialized today in Ohio, his home state. There is no way it was a coincidence that this happened on a Blue Moon, let alone a full moon. Sarah and I did what we always do for this infrequent occasion (the Blue Moon, not the memorial service): we prepared some blue food and blue drinks, put on a quartet of CDs I made many years ago for a Blue Moon party we held together shortly after our relationship began, and settled in for the evening. We had blue pasta and chicken and I mixed us some Blue Moon martinis at first, then we switched to Blue Lagoon cocktails for the rest of the evening. The CDs are a wonderful collection of songs with either the word "Blue" or the word "Moon" in the title, heavily leaning toward the latter. There's "Harvest Moon", "Blue Moon of Kentucky", "Moondance", "Claire de Lune". The Waterboys are represented, as are Echo and the Bunnymen, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and King Harvest. I have, on one of the disks, something like 17 different versions of "Blue Moon" alone. I only get these CDs out on the occasion of a Blue Moon which keeps the compilation "fresh" for the most part.

A Blue Lagoon cocktail for Neil Armstrong
One of the selections is something I put together myself all those years ago. It's a version of "Moonlight Sonata" into which I spliced some sound bites from the first moonwalk on July 20, 1969. Because of the recent loss of Neil Armstrong, when it came on tonight I was a little overcome. As I listened to those first words from the moon, I gazed at a picture of Armstrong that I printed off and put in the dining room as an homage while we had our dinner and drinks. I'm still reeling a bit from the loss of my first hero and tonight really drove his death home to me. Eventually I was able to move on, though, and we had a lovely dinner together. Sarah did yeoman's work tonight, because I know she wasn't really into this whole thing (she was exhausted from this past week's work) but pulled it together to have this evening with me. Thank goodness we did honour the Blue Moon, because if I had blown it off (we normally have people over to share in the event but everyone we asked turned us down) and later found out the extra significance of this day (the Armstrong memorial) I think I would have been pretty upset. We managed to drag ourselves out close to suppertime to pick up some Blue Curacao, lemonade and blueberry pie -- we already had the chicken, pasta and blue food colouring -- and did our "Blue Moon Party" up, albeit a little on the "light" side.

This is why food is not normally blue
When we were done our dinner we waited for the moon to make its first appearance of the night. Sarah took Addie out on the balcony for a little fresh air (on her harness and leash) and I stood in the doorway, so I could listen to the music and talk to Sarah at the same time. The night was clear (thankfully) and not too hot, but not really cool enough to make one aware that summer was nearing an end. I can't believe it's gone by so fast this year; I imagine, though, that I have said that every single year of my life. It seems impossible that when I wake up in the morning it will already be September, which has always seemed one of the saddest months of the year. I love autumn -- it's probably my favourite season -- which is why October and November are months I usually enjoy...but September is different. September feels like the end of days, in some ways. Summer is still hanging on but you know it's a lie; the sun already goes down impossibly early without us really noticing and school starts again in just a few days. All of the promise of the long, languid nights of late June seems so very far in the past now and you realize that the next long weekend we will celebrate is Thanksgiving (in Canada). No matter what you did with your summer, no matter how many glorious days you spent in the sun or relaxing on water somewhere, it never seems to have been enough. September always, always makes me feel cheated, somehow. Doubly so in years such as the last two when I was unable to get out of the city for any extended period during the summer, but I'm just not sure that would really have mattered. September always sneaks up on me and comes too fast, all at the same time.

Blue Moon over Stan Wadlow
But tonight it was still August. Summer was hanging on for one last glorious kick at the can. The beautiful moon came up a little past 7:30 and seemed to know that we needed it to take its time crossing the sky tonight. It hung in the east for far longer than it normally does and even as late as 11 p.m. it still hadn't passed out of view from our couch. I know this, because periodically during the course of Moonstruck (our obvious movie of choice tonight) I checked over my shoulder to see if it was still there and it was. I love Moonstruck and so does Sarah. It is such a gentle, beautifully crafted movie and there are so many memorable scenes in it that it's impossible to choose a favourite. Norman Jewison is a terrific director and he is responsible for many of my favourite movies, so it's no surprise how deftly this film was handled. In any event, how can I ever go wrong with a movie that spends so much of its time focusing on the full moon and lunar-related themes? Honestly, this movie had me at the title. It didn't even have to be as good as it is.

2015 is a long time to wait, although at this stage of my life every Blue Moon seems to come closer to the one before it, and that can't be a good thing. I wonder where we'll be when we celebrate that one. Wherever it is, if you're close to where we are, please come over for the party. And wear something blue, or you're not getting in.


  1. I think part of the value of this particular tradition is in marking the passage of time, and celebrating the rarity of such an event. I also think that people feel so disconnected from the natural world in this day and age that we will likely start to see more and more events and traditions rise up to celebrate the earth and our natural environment, including the cosmos above!

    1. So, the pendulum will start to swing back, you think? I hope so. :)


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