Photo by Kevin Burkett, Creative Commons Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

The excitement about the blue moon leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the moon is doing exactly what it always does. Every 29.5 days or so, it comes to the full, and the fact that it has done it twice this month is simply an artifact of the artificial calendar. Invent a solar “month” to intersect with the lunar month, and occasionally there will be two full moons in the 30- or 31-day period we have designated. It isn’t bluer than usual, it doesn’t look bigger or brighter or any different than any full moon. It’s just the moon. There have been nine full moons this year. There will be another one next month.

That’s the curmudgeon grumbling. On the other hand, I’m delighted to see my Facebook feed and other media streams so intent on getting us to look at the moon. It’s like my moon-phases watch, which is no substitute for the actual moon, but reminds me to stop looking at clock-time and calendar-time and turn my eyes to our beautiful sister planet now and then.

My own feeling whenever I look at the moon is that I’m very lucky to live on a planet that has one. Many don’t. (If offered a trip to another planet, I’d ask to go to one that has more than one satellite. That sky would be a sight to see.) One of the loveliest surprises of my life was the first time I turned a pair of binoculars on the moon. I had had no idea that there was anything much to see without a telescope. All the ridges and craters were unexpectedly beautiful, and yet they’d been there all my life. Like discovering that Grace Kelly had been following me around all that time and I only had to look over my shoulder to see her up close.

And of course, I’m always glad of an excuse to listen to Billie Holiday.

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