Because it was the first snow of the season two days ago and also because the long post I wrote last night got lost; I am sending you all an essay I wrote about my kids that I wrote a few winter’s ago that took place on a snowy and cold evening; much like the weather we are having now:
The Geode Moon
Some facts we carry throughout our lives; sayings, truisms, and information that stays with us from our childhood. Even when these gems of wisdom are trivial, we announce them with certainty, with unblinking confidence. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” we say as we look at the summer evening sky. We know this to be true.
Sometimes these facts are absurd:
“You know,” I once told a friend, “turkeys are so stupid that when it rains, they look up to the sky and drown themselves.”
“That’s ridiculous,” my friend said. “Who told you that?”
“I don’t remember.”
Inherently, we can recall the information but have forgotten its origin. When asked for the particulars we tend to look down at our feet or off into the distance with a blank stare as if we were truly trying to recall the source. Then we shrug. We say, “Oh I read it somewhere.” Or: “Someone told me.” — Someone, somewhere.
These facts lurk, ready to be pulled out during a conversation, the way we would pull an index card from a dusty Rolodex. Ah yes, here it is…if it’s on this card then it must be true. See, it says right here, “It is illegal to dance in Cambridge.”
“Is that true?”
“Well yes, I’m pretty sure … I read it somewhere.”
These blocks of information form the framework of who we are. Our personalities are shaped by these tiny clips of memory. We can access our Rolodex at any time to appear smart or quirky, humorous or hip. And sometimes we are presented with the opportunity to pass these facts along to a new generation.
This opportunity occurred last night, as I tried to convince my kids to walk the dog with me after we ate dinner. I explained to my nine year old son and his six year old sister, as I did every evening, about the responsibilities of owning a dog. How, no matter the weather conditions, the dog needed exercise and we were obligated as the owners, to provide that for her. They always complained of the cold and the dark. They were tired. They whined, I chided, and they scuffled their small feet while reluctantly bundling themselves into their coats and hats. Off we plundered into the night.
We reached the field of the nearby school where our dog loves to chase sticks. As I let the dog off her leash and searched the frozen ground for a proper twig to throw, the children suddenly stopped complaining. My son tugged at my hand while pointing to the sky.
“Look, Mom. The moon looks so cool. There’s a ring of color around it.”
Without hesitation, I opened my Rolodex, pulled the card and announced, “That means it will snow tomorrow.”
“How do you know that?” asked my ever-doubting son.
“Umm” –Blank stare –”I’m not exactly sure…”
As I was mumbling to my son and trying desperately to recall how I knew this, I realized that I had made this declaration countless times in my life and couldn’t remember who had first told me. A ring around the moons portends inevitable precipitation. This was something kept from my childhood – passed on to me by my father? Maybe it had come from another significant adult in my life. Or had I read it in some scientific journal?
My son was staring up at me with that nine-year old “oh-yah-prove-it” look on his face. Could I prove it? The origin of my information was a mystery and I had never tested the hypothesis. Having seen my share of ringed moons, I had never followed up to see if snow did actually fall the next day.
Pondering all this, I joined my children in admiring the moon; their tiny necks bent back at 90 degree angles—their chins jutted toward the cold night sky.
“It’s beautiful,” my daughter whispered. She was six and did not care if my facts were correct; she still trusted in the wonder of nature and that what I said was gospel.
“It kind of looks like an eye,” my son observed.
Three rings circled the moon, each ring a different color. The moon sat in the center like a sleepy eye surrounded by bands of pink, blue and purple.
“I think it looks like a Geode,” I said, my face still turned skyward.
My daughter looked at me and wrinkled her forehead as if to say, “huh?’
“You know, a geode,” I said, “Remember the rock we bought last summer during vacation that you had to split open, and when you did, there was an amethyst in the middle?”
“Oh—yah,” my son said, “and the rock inside had bands of colored minerals around it!”
“Right,” I said, “that’s what the moon looks like tonight.”
We all dropped our heads for a moment to relieve the strain in our necks, and then looked up at the moon again; attracted like magnets to the beautiful image of a gigantic cosmic rock floating above us. The dog, which had been very patient with us, began to bark. She’d had enough of this sky-gazing and wanted us to pay attention to her. This was her walk after all.
We continued our walk around the back of the school. My children were so enthralled by our lunar discovery that they forgot to whimper about the cold. I took my daughter’s hand and she said to me with absolute certainty,” That’s what we’ll call it then; the Geode Moon. And it will be our secret. No one else will know.”
“OK,” I said smiling into the dark.
I looked down into her small face, pink from the cold, and I knew that she wouldn’t keep this secret. I knew that in 5 years, 15 years, 30 years, my little girl would tell her friends, her husband, her children, about the Geode Moon. She would explain to them that when you see rings of color around the moon that it is guaranteed to snow the next day.
This morning from my warm kitchen, I watched the snow falling outside. I smirked at my son as he walked into the room, still fuzzy from his sleep. I cocked my head toward the window and raised my eyebrows. “Look,” I said, “It’s true.”
“Yah, I know,” he replied. As if he believed me all along. Maybe deep down he did believe me. Maybe my little cynic still wants to believe that everything I say is true.
A ring around the moon really does bring snow the next day. I told them it would, and it did. Would it always? It did today. And as surely as I knew that, I also knew that this adage would stay with my children and become a small building block in their personalities; a tiny part of who they would become. I only hope they remember where they heard it.
I hope that when my daughter walks on a shivery night with her husband, she’ll say “Hey look! It’s a Geode Moon. That means it will snow tomorrow.”
And when her husband asks, “How do you know that?”
I pray that she will say, “Because my mother told me it was so.”