Of the many remote, backcountry experiences I have had, witnessing the phenomenas of our cosmos are the some of the most alluring. From the most awesome and brilliant views of our Milky Way deep in the dark, quiet desert. To searching for snakes with my colleagues under starry-lit skies in that same desert-scape. To gazing at meteor showers from a meadow within the San Pedro wilderness after spotting a mountain lion nearby. To the seemingly, sudden illumination of moon light as fast moving thick clouds blew away the darkness almost instantly, lighting my camp at the base of the sacred Chicoma Peak of the Jemez Mountains.
To a day backpacking in a Colorado wilderness along the Continental Divide that continued late into the night guided by star and moonlight. And to one of my all time favorite sights of witnessing the sun set as the moon rises simultaneously backpacking in the desert. To grand harvest moons; two moon eclipses: one in the foothills of the southernmost Chihuahuan desert mountains; the second and most recent, in the dark boundaries of the juniper ladened Dragonfly trails.
During the full moon and pre-eclipse phase, I watch carefully, looking out over the illuminated landscape and always, in a sense of wonder waiting to witness the subtle transformation. The moon is a thing that captivates most of us earth dwellers; though to my surprise, I have certainly encountered those who find gazing up at our cosmos bland and uninteresting. But to gaze upwards to the cosmos has remained a humbling experience for me.
Anticipating our most recent Lunar eclipse, I reflected on a moment I had while on my way to my 3rd shift job at the age of nineteen. At around 8 pm or so, driving away from my apartment which was nestled up against mountains, I caught glimpse of an enormous full moon in my rear view mirror. During that winding drive down, the twists and turns allowed me to catch many more glimpses of that remarkably-hard-to-ignore sight! I remember the sight making me gasp with awe. It tugged at me. I wanted more than anything to change my direction and skip work for the chance to just sit silently somewhere in the mountains to gaze at its brilliance. Alas, my level-headedness persuaded me to go to work. Saddened by it, I felt as if I was missing out on something special. Yet, the glimpses of the moon and it’s brightness were so up-lifting, reinforcing me to be grateful for even that chance. It was a strange and powerful moment.
Now, back to the present lunar eclipse, the moon’s transformation is nearly complete as a reddish hue takes over it’s entire face. The once moonlit juniper-pinyon ladened landscape now darkened and mysterious. That familiar yet, alien-like reddish object in the dark sky plays with my eyes. Warping in and out clarity as if illusory. It is clearly there, and yet, hidden. For a while longer I watch this phenomenal sight of nature. It hangs in front of us, portraying the awesome-ness of our Universe, the ultimate ecosystem, and everything within it.