In childhood I never stopped wondering how the world we lived in was in like a great cosmic puzzle; how winter cold was essential to give a dormant period to northern perennials, and how the longer and warmer days of spring fostered the awakening of bulbs. Life on the Gulf of Mexico has its seasons as well, and we have come to anticipate the cooler drier days of January and February along with the rainy season of August and September. What unites our new home with our former home and our friends still in the north is the nightsky.
The constellations may be different from one hemisphere to another, but the full moon is our beacon and nature’s as well. Many types of invertebrate sea life time their breeding season by the full luminous moon like coral and sponges. Sea turtles nesting season is timed so that the greatest light will be the moon over the ocean calling the hatchlings to their new home, that is unless ambient light disturbs this innate reaction.
What about humans? Before we had electricity or gas lights we had starlight and moonlight to guide us through our nocturnal journeys. For nautical travel by seas, knowledge of the night sky was fundamental for survival, now we rely on smart phones and GPS technology, while sea turtles navigate by instinct and inborn tracking system of our Earth’s magnetic field.
With all the opportunity that technology provides us, perhaps we should lay our phones and tablets aside occasionally and take time to enjoy the marvelous night sky the way people did hundreds of years ago. Wondering has it benefits, look what it did to elevate Albert Einstein; the more devices we have to do our thinking, the less thinking we actually do.
Wondering is what sets us apart from the wildlife; crows and ravens are notorious in their thinking and problem solving. Male Bowerbirds create elaborate glittering shrines of color to attract a mate, while male ospreys must prepare a substantial nest to woo a mate. With animals, their ingenuity and creativity is restricted to the cycle of the season. Animals are unable to change the thermostat or change the time to suit their whims, no the natural clock of the sun and moon dictate their days and nights. We as humans have a freedom not natural to nature; we have the luxury of play and will we fill that free time to take a quiz on our phone or will we walk the beach under star and moonlight? I’ll choose the moon and stars every time.
My original watercolor is painted on Arches cold press paper with Sennelier watercolors, and deeper tones created with Schmincke gouache. After four months with acrylic paints I felt challenged by the fluidity of watercolor and even Beatrix Potter had confessed that oils (paint) spoiled her for watercolors.
While the lunar calendar refers to February’s full moon as the Snow Moon, we on a tropical island may refer to it as the Sand Moon. All the very best for the most enjoyable evening of star and moon gazing!