Something haunting

The Harvest Moon shines on Dam Neck, Virginia, September 2013

The Harvest Moon shines on Dam Neck, Virginia, September 2013

“There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of its inconceivable mystery.”Joseph Conrad

The children out trick-or-treating for Halloween this year won’t enjoy the light of a full moon, but perhaps it will shine in their imaginations.  Of all the seasons, autumn is most closely associated with the full moon.  Maybe it’s because of the beauty of the Harvest Moon, or maybe it just seems a perfect backdrop for all the spooky tales we hear at this season.  Whatever the reasons, I hope you had time to enjoy the Harvest Moon in September, or the Hunter’s Moon of October 18; if not, there will be another full moon on November 17.  May the haunting beauty of moonlight enhance at least one evening for you this fall!


  1. Conrad is right, speaking of “inconceivable mystery”. The challenge at GA Tech, in 1968, was to re-create the vastly complex program that allowed the “trans-lunar insertion”, already performed by Apollo 8 and 9. Could Apollo 11 actually achieve the lunar landing? (students carried around several inches of key punch cards, along with their slide rules dangling, in leather cases, from their belts). You’ve got the approximately 28-day cycle, but that doesn’t begin to describe the Moon’s elliptical orbit, a brilliant “harvest moon” coming at the orbit’s perigee (when it is thousands of miles closer to earth). Then, throw in gravity? Wow. Tides in some parts of the world are so dramatic, a skilled surfer can ride the bore wave, as the leading edge of the high tide rolls in. I could go on and on, in fascination. I stare at embers, “describing despair”; oh, but fellow blog reader: to truly stare at the moon, realizing all its wonder, can make you moonstruck. The trick is to be able to cut it off before you become a lunatic.

    • Yes, I’ve always found it touching that Jim Lovell‘s memoir of Apollo 13 is titled (appropriately, I think) Lost Moon. How thankful he must be that they all made it home safely, but I’ll bet he is “haunted” by the moon to this day. So close, and yet so far! Hmmm, lunatic…an interesting term which may explain a lot in my case; in October, when I went out two consecutive nights to try (unsuccessfully) to capture the Hunter’s Moon in a shot with clouds skittering across it, Jeff said “Aren’t you taking a lot of moon photos lately?” 🙂

  2. Nancy

    Stunning shot, Julia!

    • Thank you, Nancy!

  3. Sheila

    Julia, Jeff’s comment has me so tickled, for some reason. May I say that Eric is the smartest person I’ve NEVER met? 🙂

    • Let’s just say maybe the SECOND smartest person you’ve never met…can you say “SIBLING RIVALRY?” 🙂

      • Sheila

        Oh my, what was I thinking! Yes, I’ve picked up on that…. Ongoing?? 🙂

        • Sheila, I was just joking about the intelligence thing, because Eric truly is quite smart. Oh yes, we have been in tail-kicking contests since I was a very little kid. All in good fun, most of the time. His siblings have to cut him a lot of slack at times because he is the oldest child, and has always seemed to see himself as the emergency backup father figure. We used to joke that he was born an old man. That probably isn’t funny to him, though. It was interesting to watch Drew grow up with many of the same tendencies despite Jeff and I being true “middle child” types.

          • P.S. What Eric didn’t mention in his post about going to Georgia Tech in 1968, is that he was a high school senior at the time — one of the first group of students ever allowed to start Georgia Tech while still in high school. He missed his senior year that way, but got a jump on college and his flying career.

  4. MaryAnn

    Being outside on a starlight night and/or with the moon shining brightly are treasures to me!

    • Yes, I feel the same way! Once in girl scouts we went out in a boat on the water to go star gazing. I had never seen so many stars in my whole life (and have not since). I was trying to tell Eric what it was like but couldn’t find the words. He said simply, “It made you believe in God, didn’t it?” which said it all.

  5. Carlyle

    I recall being out under a full moon , a clear sky and a blanket of fresh snow on the ground. I retrieved a Bible and proceeded to read it easily. The glare was almost blinding.

    • It is amazing how bright the snow can look under moonlight. When we first moved to Alexandria we got a lot of snow that winter. I went out on the deck to take photos in the moonlight and the photos looked as if they had been taken during the day!

  6. I love the moon in all its phases but it really fascinates me when you can see it in the day time. I look for it on my way to work and I think of it as God winking at me before my day starts. Beautiful photo.

    • Yes! The other morning I was out walking (in York) and saw the full moon in the sky and just had to walk all the way back to the house to get my camera. I was afraid it would be gone by the time I got back to where I saw it, but it wasn’t. I took several photos but haven’t even taken the card out of my camera to see how they came out. Someone gave Jeff a copy of the Godwink Stories when he was first diagnosed; have you read it?

      • I have not read that one. I shall have to look for it.

        • You can borrow our copy! I probably won’t get around to reading it until a long time from now.

  7. I will have to watch for the next one for sure. Mr B turns 50 on Nov 16th and I think he might be tired the next day 😉 It’s a surprise. But I’ll make sure I point it out.

    When I was working in Business Sales for a communications company here, we always knew when it was a full moon. If you’ve heard old wives tales that people go a little bonkers during a full moon, it’s true. We’d get the craziest nuts on that day. True story.

    • Usually the moon appears full for 3 days, in this case Nov. 16-18, so maybe you can get out on Mr. B’s birthday and catch a photo of him by the light of the moon! It’s a fairly established fact that lunar cycles affect nature, as discussed in studies here and here. Just recently I’ve become aware of studies exploring the effects of light from other sources, also known as “light pollution,” a term I first remember seeing on Michael Lai’s fascinating blog.

      When I was very young I asked my father whether he thought the moon could really influence people’s behavior. His answer was that, considering its effect on the tides and something as enormous as the ocean, he thought it entirely reasonable to assume it could have influence on other things on earth. I guess the term “lunatic” really did come about for a reason.

      • I guess we just take it for granted, sitting up there in the night sky. Thank you for sharing those links, interesting research and questions to answer. We were about 50 minutes out of the city and the light pollution still effected the night sky. There weren’t any road lights in our community though, only perhaps the odd yard light. If there wasn’t much moonlight, it got pretty dark after sundown. Visitors often remarked how starry it looked to them if we
        were out at a campfire.

        I’ll try to talk Mr B into moonlight photo op….assuming there isn’t a snowstorm going on. We are in for our first winter smack down tomorrow and wouldn’t you know it, we are traveling 😀

        • Oh, too bad…drive carefully and be safe! Hope you are able to enjoy some birthday moonlight.

      • Anon E. Moose

        Whaduhyamean, you guess? Of course we are alluding to the correct etymology of the word, lunatic!

        • Uh, were you saying “correct etymology of the word ‘lunatic'” or “correct etymology of the word, [you crazy] lunatic? In the interest of clear communication, I must state that the latter would be an insult, so I am assuming the former. 😀 BTW the full moon was a week ago, so I can’t use that as an excuse for my response! I guess it’s not a lunar thing.

          • Anon E. Moose

            What’s in the road, a head?
            What are we having for dinner? Mother?

            • Sorry, punctuation!

              • Anon E. Moose

                Sorry punctuation has plagued me for, as long as, I can remember.

  8. Jenelle

    I’m late here… it’s been a busy past few days. But I had to comment on this incredible picture. I agree, there is something haunting about the light of the moon. The night sky is one of my favorite God creations. I could lay underneath a star filled sky for hours, getting lost in my dreams. Love this pic, Julia!

    • Thanks Jenelle! I have been intending to email you to say I LOVE your new Gravatar picture. I was thinking of doing something similar myself in the beginning of this blog, except I was planning to hold the book all the way in front of my face, so I could be incognito! But I like it much better the way yours looks, especially the eye color. Very attractive!


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