Potato Weather

photo by Tim McCord in Entiat, Washington

“Look at that moon. Potato weather for sure.”
Mrs. Gibb― Thornton Wilder, Our Town

Tonight is super moon night –the full moon combined with the annual closest approach to the earth and it did not disappoint.  The orb was orange and optically oversized on the horizon, looking ever so much like a search light trained over the landscape, creating moon shadows and moon worshippers everywhere.  The moon was made for hankerings of all kinds and in my case, I’m hankering for a new crop of potatoes.  I’ve cooked up the last dug up 7 months ago.

The garden is ready for the spuds, just newly rotatilled with worm-happy compost.  The dirt feels fluffy in the hand, and the air is still cool on the face.  Between a full moon waning and brisk spring weather, it is time to plant potatoes, eyes up, anxious to sprout through to the surface and reach for the sky and the moon.

I have no idea what the moon has to do with potato planting.  I only know that back when people paid close to attention to such things, it mattered when they planted.  Maybe the search light moonbeams brought those sprouts out of the ground just a little faster, with due haste and God speed.   Maybe the accelerando tidal pull of a close super moon brings
us all a little nearer to the surface: to grow, to flourish, to howl moonward from the safety of the evanescent shadows that vanish, dissolved by the sun, at daybreak.

They danced by the light of the moon,
          The moon,
          The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Edward Lear–The Owl and the PussyCat

For Eyes to be Opened

Scene from Thornton Wilder's "Our Town"

Just as dinner was cooking in the oven last night, the power went out.  There was no wind, no rain, no reason except the power company’s rote “equipment failure” message.  It took several hours for power to be restored.  In the meantime, life becomes very very simple without all the usual myriad distractions.

Our daughter had been working on her last high school English essay of the year, an analysis of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”.   The laptop she was working on still had battery power left, so she continued to type away, her face highlighted by the glow of her computer screen while the rest of us settled for candle light.

“Our Town” is a play set at the turn of the twentieth century, and an appropriate piece of literature to study during a power outage.  It is Wilder’s sledge hammer blow to a society too wrapped up striving for the false gods of cultural ambition and success to notice that life, real life,  is happening to us every minute in our relationships and in the places we dwell.  We are a people blinded to what is truly meaningful to our existence, and to what really matters after we are gone.

As the main character, Emily Gibbs (yes, I was actually named for her by my drama teacher mother) says from the grave:

“Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.  Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute?”

The power going out reminded us to really look at one another.  Power going out made us really talk to one another.  The power going out reminded me why several years ago,  I started writing about the significance of the routine and sometimes mundane details of my life.

I do want to realize life–every every minute.

Graveyard scene from Our Town