Moonlit Paddling

School starts in a few days, and that means training a new crop of kindergartners. My intention was to get to bed earlier this weekend to rest up for the formidable task that awaits me in my classroom throughout September. However, the ambiance of the full (and virtually full) moon rising and shining over the river is a delight I have been unable to resist this weekend. I was encouraged by the perspective of an older friend who commented, “As I look back on my life I wish for more moon dances, not more sleep.” How true. My moon dances tend to involve a kayak and a paddle.

On Friday night, we were treated to a rare “blue moon,” which refers to the second full moon during a calendar month or the fourth full moon of a season. The next blue moon will not occur until 2015, providing context for the phrase “once in a blue moon.” I had hoped to photograph the blue moon rising when it was low on the horizon, but there was too much cloud cover, and the moon wasn’t visible until nearly 11:00 p.m. – when I set up the tripod on the dock for a brief and somewhat bleary-eyed photo shoot.

August “blue moon” rising – blue in name only

Saturday evening, I again hoped to photograph the moon early and finished canning another batch of tomatoes just in time to witness the large, orange-hued orb climbing up through the trees across the river. 

I was unable to achieve a satisfying photo when the moon floated onto the deep blue canvas of sky above the treetops, but the image (below) of the May “super moon” rising is a close approximation. 


It is downright enchanting on the river when the moon is full. The moon above the treetops is mirrored by the calm surface of the river with an ever-so-gentle current and frequent ripples creating a pulsating effect of light on the water. The reflection of the moon on the water dances like a phantom flag of light waving in the breeze. 

Puffy clouds dot the sky, creating a variety of soothing shades of blue and gray that come together with edges resembling a watercolor painting. 

Next to the dock, shadows of river grass stand in contrast to the countless lily pads glistening with silver fairy dust sprinkled by the moon as it arcs higher in the sky across the river.

Just before going indoors, I heard the rhythmic creaking of a canoe passing by, though I could not see it through the darkness. The voices sounded like a father and child enjoying a special moonlit excursion. When I returned to the dock later to retrieve my tripod, the moon was smaller and much higher in the sky, shining like a flashlight and delineating the cloud formations around it. My kayak called to me despite the late hour.
Moonlit kayaking is an incredible sensory experience. Pure peace. I can’t imagine ever regretting losing sleep in order to experience it. In fact, the image in all its multisensory glory is stored with other relaxing and comforting memories in the filing cabinet of my mind for retrieval when I wish to pause amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life and retreat into stillness. 
I float silently, eyes fixed on the moon, listening to the chorus of crickets and cicadas all around, the occasional cry of a heron, and muffled conversation of neighbors enjoying an outdoor fire this lovely night – all the while feeling blessed for the opportunity. When I do finally go to bed, it is with a grateful heart bathed in the peace of summer’s last full moon illuminating my dreams.

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