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The Moon, Meandering, and a Mug

Inspired by "Is This It" by Maya Stein


Is this it? The daytime moon, not quite full, small, so far away. Hard to catch in a photograph. But still, it’s up there. Luminous. Gorgeous. Arresting – when I’m willing to stop and pay attention. On this day, an almost-sphere of sparkling white hanging in the clear blue sky, free and untethered. The branches of a winter-naked tree like cupped hands reaching up; ready to catch her if she falls.

I didn’t think that was it. Not that day; the moon not yet full. But maybe when it fills out. I’ll come back then, I thought, and catch the full moon of February – the Snow Moon – on my phone – that pocket-size piece of technology that I love and hate. That will be it.


Two days later, as I set out on my walk, I remembered to look for the moon, 12 hours from full. But it was a cloudy day. No moon to be seen; only a dull grey sky that echoed the dingy, partly-melted snow and ice on the path in front of me, and on the softening lake. I could try again tomorrow I thought, but the forecast said it would be another cloudy day.

I walked on.

And out of the sameness -- the dreary light and the heavy air -- a muted orange tree caught my gaze. A willow with its ochre leaves hanging on through the winter, as they do. This fluttering of colour, bright amidst the softening-to-spring greys, stopped me. Is this it? I stepped off the path, wading into the snow, for a closer look. The narrow leaves, in their alternate arrangement along the thin sienna branch, like laundry hung out on a line last summer, and left to fade and blow in the wind. Or prayer flags, a bit tattered and frayed by all that they’ve weathered this winter.


As I sit here now, pen in hand, trying to name the colour of those leaves, my eyes are drawn to the muted apricot hue of my fire-kilned mug. The same mug that has found its way onto my notebook pages, again and again, when I’m aiming to settle into details, into presence, and out of the tiresome, circling thoughts that often clutter my mind and my writing. “The earthy orange mug on my cluttered desk”, scrawled onto my notebook page, like a meditation bell that brings me back to here, to now. And that mug – it’s the one that I’ve cupped in my hands, my thumb worrying the rough ledge of the handle, day after stay-at-home day, while learning to let drinking tea be its own activity. The mug whose colour and my affection for it helped me notice the tree, and vice versa. Is this it?


Back to my moon – by which I mean my moment with the moon – the one that was good but which I deemed not-quite-good-enough. The one that was, I hoped, a warm-up to a better experience yet to come. Well, that was it. That was something. My moment, two days ahead of the full, once-a-year Snow Moon. A moment I enjoyed, even as I thought it not good enough. A full moment with a the not-full moon. A slice of life expanded even more through writing. And which, in turn, sparked more fullness, more aliveness, more moments, more it. It was good enough. It was it. A piece of it.

Here. I’ve got this picture, and this story, to show you.


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