Getting ready to cuddle with my grandson Jonah on the sofa, I pull out an oldie but goodie- Margaret Wise Brown’s storybook, Wait Til the Moon is Full. We read about the little raccoon playing, eating, wondering in his home under the big chestnut tree, asking his mom, when can I go out and see the moon? She answers, day after day, Wait, wait til the moon is full. Then you will see what it is, then you will hear the owl, then will you find a friend.
So at story’s end, Jonah asks to see the moon, and asks, is it full? Being a modern Grandma, I pull up my moonfree app on my smartphone. I show him the crescent shape that we can see tonight, and I teach him that delightful new word- crescent. By clicking on an arrow I can show Jonah, via my tiny phone screen, the moon change its shape, clicking for each day after day until I am showing him a circle of light that represents the full moon. His mom asks for the date of the full moon to come, and enters a reminder into her phone, so they can remember to go out to see the full moon.
I am happy thinking of my grandson Jonah allowed to stay up late of a summer evening, to go out and play in the strange bright light of a full moon. Maybe he will hear an owl, maybe find a friend. But here we are still sitting on the sofa with a slim box of electronics in our hand, while the real moon awaits us outside.
So, pajama-clad, we get on our shoes and go out into the velvety deep blue of the summer evening.
It is a cloudless sky, rare for our city. There are a few big stars shining brightly. There are also some bigger streetlights, their glare blocking out the sky around them. The trees in our yard, lining the alley and along the street are full of their large summer leaves creating dark masses swaying slightly in the breeze. We look and look and cannot find the moon.
We walk to the street, we walk to the intersection, we look here and there and to the horizon and up in the sky. We cannot find the moon tonight.
Which is what real life is like, I think. The computer, the phone app, shows us what is true. What is real is more elusive. I tell Jonah the moon is always there. And we will look for it on many nights.
Illustration from Wait Til the Moon is Full, by Margaret Wise Brown.