Spring Moon


Wherever you are on this last day of winter, cross your fingers for a clear evening sky, and at sunset climb onto your roof or a tree or a nearby hill to await the moonrise. Because this is the night of the Perigee Moon (from the Greek peri, “around” + ge, “earth”), an unusually large and bright full moon that occurs only about every twenty years.

The moon’s elliptical orbit around the earth means that sometimes it’s closer, sometimes further away from us; and tonight the full moon coincides almost perfectly with the moment of its shortest distance to earth. The apparent increase in size is about 14%, which is enough to make a visible difference. After all, if your weight suddenly increased by 14%, wouldn’t your family notice your unusually large full moon?

Accompanying the large lovely moon will be a noticeable but not alarming rise in the tides, and perhaps an increase in howling. Also, this morning at breakfast we discovered that last night everyone in the family had slept very badly. Was it the dinner? Or, because we earthlings are composed mostly of salt water, could the nearness of the moon affect our inner tides, and therefore our sleep?

See you out there! In the meantime, here are two moon poems suitable for the Eve of Spring.

For another eve-of-spring picture, please see Dream of Spring.

Face of the spring moon–
about twelve years old,
I’d say.

—Kobayashi Issa

who knows if the moon’s
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky–filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should
get into it,if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we’d go up higher with all the pretty people
than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody’s ever visited,where
Spring)and everyone’s
in love and flowers pick themselves

—E. E. Cummings


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