Wednesday, November 13, 2013

174. Moon Shadows...

...and no, this is not a post about butts.

Loch Ness
After the trail, Dumptruck and I moved into an old carriage house, built in 1806, on the seacoast in Kennebunkport, Maine. We moved in with two of our best friends, Jessica and Cory. We call Jessica "Loch Ness", an honorary trail name from the many times we have gone camping in the Catskill mountains in upstate New York. She earned it for swimming in a waterfall, and trying to flip her hair back like Ariel in the Little Mermaid. Instead of successfully achieving a Maxim-style hair-flip rainbow of water, she achieved this:

A photo which, to this day, continues to make her laugh until she cries.

The greatest part is that this photo was the third try. After each attempt she would surface and demand in a monster voice, "AM I BEAUTIFUL YET!?"

When the trail name Loch Ness was suggested in reference to this series of sea creature photos, she was delighted. This is but a brief foray into the understanding of why Loch Ness is a best friend.

Also living with us is Whistle, who has become our house elf. She wants to live in southern Maine, but was planning on just sleeping in her car for 2 months because she is leaving for 3 weeks in the middle of November to be in Australia with her family. We were not going to allow her to live in her car, so she has been living on our couch. She cooks and cleans for us, often silently, so no one can catch her in the act and stop her. Therefore: house elf. Like Dobby in Harry Potter, except with smaller ears and longer legs.

All of this has been a lead up to give you an understanding that because we live in Maine, we are now victim to a world with limited sunlight. As of a few days ago, the sun now sets by 4:30pm. I have experienced earlier sunsets, as I went to high school in the northernmost part of Maine, where the sun rose at 9am and set at 3:30pm.... just enough time for you to miss every moment of sunlight because you are inside LEARNING.

Because I am training for an Ultra Marathon, the early sunset and freezing cold temperatures can't get in the way of me running. Why not run on a treadmill, inside where it is safe and warm, you ask? There are a few reasons:

1. I don't really feel compelled to pay for a gym membership.
2. Running on a treadmill makes me feel like a hamster in a wheel.
3. I don't feel like getting into it right now because it is embarrassing and involves me falling down in front of a bunch of fancy New Yorkers all working out their fancy New Yorker glutes and WHATEVER. I HAD. A BAD. EXPERIENCE.

Suffice it to say, I am going to endure the increasingly freezing weather and lack of sunlight because I already paid for my entry fee for that race, and I can't be waylaid by some small, little hiccup like an entire season of snow, ice and darkness in New England. I had been running in the mornings, but with some changes in my work schedule, I have to run in the evening. Today was the first day that I got to see what it was like to run along the seashore at 6:30pm.

I thought about wearing a headlamp, but Whistle made the point that it would likely just end up bouncing around on my face like an angry sparrow. The moon was nearly full this evening, so I decided to just run without any light. There is a sidewalk that runs directly along the ocean that is my running route that has very little tree cover, so I figured there would be enough to see.

As I ran through the icy air, the beautiful sounds of the ocean only somewhat drowned out by the completely embarrassing selection of terrible pop music that I listen to while I run, I started to notice my shadow. I hadn't seen my moon shadow since I had been on the Appalachian Trail, and I forgot how remarkable it was. A shadow in the middle of night.

A lot of us don't notice the impact that electricity has on us. I definitely never noticed until I went on my first long distance backpacking trip. Our eyes are so much more powerful than we give them credit for. Usually the only time we have to try to see in the dark is when we are pin-balling our way down the hallway in the middle of the night, trying to get to the bathroom, but not before we step on some legos, accidentally kick a cat, and hit our heads on a doorframe. This really doesn't give our eyes enough time to get their bearings.

But out in the wilderness, when the moon is full and there aren't any trees to block the light, we can see so much. The world is in black and white, the low light only filtering through enough to activate the rods in our eyes, and we get to see everything in zero percent saturation. In the wilderness, or on the edge of the ocean in a tiny town with no street lamps, or in the middle of a potato field in the middle of nowhere, the moon is as bright as a theatre spotlight.

I wish I had a photograph to show you a moon shadow. I know it's possible to capture, but I haven't dragged Dumptruck outside to make it happen. Instead, I will give you a long-exposure photo of the moon that Dumptruck took on the Appalachian Trail, somewhere in Tennessee. I would recommend clicking on the photo to make it full-size on a computer.

This is the moon! Not the sun!

When we're sleeping, the moon puts on its sun-dress and dances across the horizon.

Clever Girl


  1. Replies
    1. I agree! He did a long exposure to be able to get the stars and moon :D

  2. Still enjoying your writing....thx!

  3. Love the pic! And the Italian Job reference too. Made me giggle...

    1. I can't tell you how happy it makes me that you know that reference. Awesome. So awesome.