Tuesday, December 21, 2010

midnight party on the deck

I'm full of words today. (The Silent Night one was all done, yesterday, but I forgot to click "publish.")

I'm going to tell you about how awesome my dad is. My dad has always loved all things space-related. He was totally into the moon landing and exploring space and launching rockets up out of our atmosphere and so forth. We even had model rockets we'd take over to the nearby park and shoot off until some park ranger came along and spoiled our fun. Back in those days they still launch the Space Shuttle and my dad, on more than one occasion, would wake me up early in the morning to watch the launch with him. But the thing I remember most is the lunar eclipse.

I remember my dad waking me up in the middle of the night and taking me into the backyard where he had already brought out our olive green plush rocking chair. I must have been 5 or 6. No more than 8 because I could still easily fit on his lap. There we sat and watched a lunar eclipse. I have often thought of that experience and how much I loved it. An eclipse is a pretty amazing phenomenon to witness, but it was compounded by doing it with my dad. It was something he really liked, and he chose me to share it with. And there we sat in the quiet night, watching the moon darken. I thought it was just for us, and that it was the coolest thing.

It was partly because it is just so dang fun, and partly to honor my dad, that I wanted my kids to have that experience. So at 11:43 pm last night, I woke up Ainsleigh and Donovan, Joel got out sleeping bags, and we went outside onto our deck. We were lucky that we haven't had any snow, and the nights have been relatively mild, because we could put on hats, climb into sleeping bags and throw blankets on top and be quite comfortable. Heads together, the four of us watched as the Earth's shadow slowly spread across the moon. The kids giggled and said dumb stuff, Ainsleigh shared some facts she had learned at school, and we saw a few shooting stars.

At one point, Donovan said, "I wonder if our neighbors are having this much fun watching the eclipse." I told him that most people won't even see it, but that we were doing it because their Grandpa used to watch it with me. They giggled some more at the wonder of it all.

By about 12:45, the eclipse was complete. The really cool thing was that the moon took on an amber glow. You could still see where it was, but it looked brown. We talked about what people used to think it meant. No wonder the druids were like, "Quick! Sacrifice someone!"

The other neat thing was how dark it got, even though it still glowed a little. When we first walked out onto the deck, it was so bright outside that trees and our patio furniture were casting dark shadows. But once the moon was in full eclipse, there were no shadows.

It was a fun time and I wondered if it meant more to me than the kids. But this morning Donovan found me helping Gemma get dressed and said, "Mommy? That was a really fun thing we did last night. I really liked laying outside watching the eclipse." Me too, little buddy. Me too.

Dear children in the future, Please do this. It is (relatively) painless and is something your children won't forget. Think of us out there in the cold quiet night. Think of your mom as a girl sitting on Grandpa's lap. And carry on a quiet little tradition.


Alice said...

I remember looking at stars in my backyard with my Dad. He actually has a 1/2 hr video of a lunar eclipse. HA HA...he took a whole video of it. I thought maybe I'd catch it if Sylvia woke up around then to nurse...but she didn't and I was zonked out at 8:30pm. Too bad you didn't post amazing photos...ahem...y'know with your husband being a photographer and all.

Anonymous said...

This pleases me VERY much, and somewhere your Grandpa O is smiling, because he got me up in the middle of the night when I was 7 to show me the wonders of a full lunar eclipse. I have no doubt your kids will be doing it with theirs 30 years from now. While I wish we could have been together for last night's cool event, we were all looking at the same thing at the same time, so I suppose we were.

NancyO said...

Ohhh, that's so neat. Wish I could have joined you!