First frost. Spiderwebs like dreamcatchers, strung with the dew they caught and kept. Leaves that break underfoot like glass. Autumn may have slunk in like an alley-cat, all stealth and grace, but she's a lion now. The streets are copper and gold where she's stepped.
And oh, the moons, the lovely moons. Why are the skies so much clearer in the cold? The stars come back to themselves, are brilliant in a way they never are in Summer, when they are gentled by the heat, and the Autumn moons are startling: bone-white, diamond-clear, hauntingly bright.
I read somewhere that scientists think the moon may have been ours once, a commonplace part of our crust. That something struck us from the wide white sky - a meteor, perhaps, or a comet streaking fire the way a girl's hair streams behind her in the wind - and a huge chunk of land broke away and spun off into space, where it caught in orbit, and hung there, and became our moon.
Isn't it pretty to think so? I can't help but think of the moon as a girl, and that theory leads me to imagine her up there on her shelf of stars, lonely and wistful and Winter-white, always in sight of her old home but unable to return. Maybe that's why the tides turn, because she's trying to sing them back. Maybe that's why girls crease with cramp each month, because their blood follows the same silver tune.
There is something magical about the moon. That's why so many poems try to catch her in the nets of their lines, like a great silver fish. That's why so many artists try to keep something of her for themselves, in ornate frames, in cathedral-quiet gallery rooms.
I wrote a few posts ago of moths; of how they have become something of a personal totem after they batted insistently at the glass of my life in their soot-soft, silent-winged flurries. How I finally gleaned a message from their constant, persistent presence: to make the decision that is right for myself in every moment, and to always head in the direction of the light.
It stands to reason, then, that I may be more moon-obsessed, lately, than most, given that I'm following the path of the moth these days, and the moon is the very source of that light, in both literal and metaphoricalterms. I'm asking constant questions in a way I've never done because of that little lightbulb moment about the moths. I'm more engaged than I've ever been. I accepted my life just the way it was for a really long time, because that's what so many people do. So many people just accept that they're in jobs they hate, or have toxic relationships, or are in poor health; they accept it because they take the attitude that this is real life, and real life isn't all dreams coming true and Prince Charmings happening along, and having jobs we really love and getting paid a lot of money to do them; we're not in a Hollywood movie.
And I accept that; I accept that we're not in a
movie. But who wants a life where the endings are already written, anyway, and
the coincidences aren't strange and wonderful but scripted purely for plot, and
the moon, the gorgeous, miraculous, luminous moon, is just something small and
coin-bright on a flat screen?
Life isn't perfect. I've always known that. It took me a lot longer to realise and really understand that just because everything isn't perfect doesn't mean that nothing is.
Last night I had a perfect moment. It was both the loveliest and simplest of things. I had a glass of really cold beer, my boyfriend's hand was resting on my knee, and we were talking and looking up at the moon which was just wildly, insanely, outrageously beautiful, all wreathed in blue cloud and turning the air silver. And for a split second, I felt perfect, and happy, and absolutely full, and I thought This is it, this is what pure joy feels like. And then it was gone, with just the lovely afterglow left behind for a spell.
I think maybe the trick of happiness is accepting that we can't maintain that feeling constantly. We're not meant to. Happiness without any other emotions to frame it is empty. It's champagne without the bubbles. Fizz gone completely flat. We can't rest in those happy, perfect little moments forever. But in keeping those metaphorical moths in mind, I'm learning to move in that same, steady, hitching kind of flight in pursuit of those moments. Zigzagging between my moments of joy. Luxuriating in them when they happen, and then setting off again afterwards, eyes on the next bit of light.
The moon, more than anything else, has the effect of making me remember how small and human and mortal I am, even as it makes me contemplate how vast the universe must be, and what a miracle it is that I exist - that any of us exist - at all.
And so I'm going to go out again tonight. Breathe in the cold, look up at the moon. Know that if I could see my own eyes, there'd be a million stars reflected in them. All those galaxies, all that old light, ,existing, however briefly, in me.
What a miracle that is. And how simple it is to find miracles when you only stop to look.