gals won'tcha come out tonight, come out tonight, come out tonight. Buffalo gals, won'tcha
come out tonight and dance by the light of the
moon?" Every time I see a full or
nearly full moon, I think of this songmy father used to
sing to his little girl any time we happened to view a
full moon together.
That probably began the magic of moon gazing for me. The gazing improved when my mother told her wide-eyed daughter to look for the man in the moon. Sure enough, I could spot his eyes, nose, and mouth.
To further weave the magic, we read nursery stories about cows jumping over the moon and moons made of green cheese. My brain teamed with delightful tales and wonderful images of dancing buffalo gals who looked much like Annie Oakley and Olympian cows that could leave the boundaries of earth's gravity behind. No wonder the moon cast its spell over me.
When we moved to Southern California, we discovered another kind of
moon magic local to place. Grunion, a small and silvery slip of a fish, answers the call to reproduce during spring full moons. These sardine size creatures ride the waves in during high tide to spawn on the shore.
I remember arriving at Huntington Beach at high tide to find grunion hunters under a communion wafer moon. Driving home afterwards with empty buckets rattling did not dampen our mood.
The joy of running barefooted in wet sand under a full moon reflecting off in-coming waves and listening to the song of the pounding surf made up for our failure as grunion-nappers. This memory returns on nights I stand outside, basking in silvery moonlight.
Songwriters, lovers, and poets know the moon and compose songs
titled "Moon River," "Moon Shadow," and "Blue Moon." Clement Moore wrote "The
Night Before Christmas,” and spoke of the moon "shining on the breast of the new fallen snow." In the poem "The Highway Man" the author writes, "the moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas."
These images fed my imagination so that when I had daughters, I wanted them to sense the magic I felt. I had learned a silly rhyme from my grandmother, and the girls and I stood under a warm summer crescent moon and recited, "Look at the moon. Someone bit it in two. I didn't do it. Naughty puppy, did you?" They would giggle as only little girls can while the moon shone on tiny baby teeth pearls and reflected in their eyes. To this day, I cannot see a crescent moon without remembering grandmother and toddling daughters.
Though the world changes, though our families grow and shrink and grow, though we age, the moon cycles every 29.5 days. We can stand under the moonlight and know that light shines on our loved ones no matter where they live. Just as the pull of the moon creates tides and wave cycles, it tugs our hearts and creates a life pattern on which we can count.