“Hope you’ve got your (things) together...
“Hope you’re quite prepared to die...
“There’s a bad moon on the rise...” – with apologizes to Credence Clearwater Revival.
At 3 a.m., the full moon paints the forest in liquid silver. The excess spills across the deck and through the window onto the rug inside the house.
Moonlight, of course, is no more than sunlight on the rebound. Through celestial alchemy, the sun’s golden rays turn to silver when bounced off the small planet circling Earth.
The moon affects our world. From hundreds of thousands of miles away, it’s gravitational pull produces tides in large bodies of water.
The full moon tugs at mankind and animals in other ways.
Police often report increased criminal activity during the full moon.
Workers in mental hospitals often report increased restlessness among patients.
What causes these psychic tides? We don’t know. Much of the human mind is uncharted territory. We know, and suspect, as much of the mind as Columbus did of the rest of the world when he set sail in 1492.
There will be a full moon this week.
I remember another full moon some years ago. The following are my memories of that night...
Outside on the deck, a lone player in a silver spotlight, our old dog paced to and fro, nails clicking on the hardwood.
This was an animal stove up with arthritis. In recent years, the center of his universe had been an old seat cushion in the carport. From there, he stirred perhaps once a day to the feed pan and water tray several feet away.
Perhaps one other time each day, a couple steps at a time and then stopping for a rest, he creaked slowly, out onto the lawn, there to answer the call of nature.
I knew beyond a doubt, and beyond hope, that soon I would have to perform a pet owner’s last wrenching act, and carry him to the vet one last time, there to let the merciful hand of death still his heart and free him from his pain.
But that night, under the full moon, the old dog was unhindered by pain. He walked more in ten minutes than he had walked in a week.
He wandered aimlessly back and forth, powered by some sort of crippled moonlight-dazzled autopilot deep in his brain. Published reports said the moon was closer to Earth than it had been in nearly a half-century.
That huge moon, with rays bright enough to read by, lit the grave of our cat, which had died earlier that week.
I can prove none of the following. Nonetheless, I think the old dog knew, on some level, his pal the cat was gone, never to return. I think he may have found the cat’s body long before the boy did. I think he may have watched the boy wrap the small furry corpse in a garbage bag, then carefully place it in the hole he had hacked out of the cold ground.
I think the cat’s death somehow disturbed the old dog.
And under a full, close moon, the old hound was not himself.
I wondered how, from deep in space, the moon could stir the old dog so deeply. I wondered what the silver moonlight was doing to what remained of his brain. He was surely dying; his brain cells winking out one at a time, like stars in a dead universe. I wonder what chill winds blew down the empty corridors of his brain, there in the moonlight.
I wonder, but I’ll never know.
Several days later, I took him on that last ride to the vet’s.
There, blessedly, seconds after the injection, he died in my arms.
I think, somewhere, he now plays, forever young and nimble, with his pal the cat…