My Memorable Moon-Watching

Last night I was having tea in my back yard when my astrology-savvy friend up north called to make sure I planned to catch the most fantastic full moon tonight. I assured him that I was all over it, that in fact the voyage started last night. I caught an hour of the promisingly big moon surrounded with thick fog where I was, right after I found out that my beloved Howard Zinn had passed away. Looking at the moon in the dark, has always soothed me. It takes me to some calm introspective place that not that many other natural elements can. Well perhaps excluding the ocean on a sunny day. Anyway, I was feeling sad and watching the fog and haze over and around the moon did something for me. When I went to bed I still peaked from my bedroom window in hope of seeing my moon cleared of fog. Around 2 am I gave up and fell asleep right there by my window.

This late afternoon my daughter called me from work to see if I was interested in going for Japanese food with her friend and her mom. I told her what a terrific time I was having drinking my tea under the most Amazing Full Moon. I urged her to come home after work to see what I meant. She had read about it, wanted to see it but still wanted to go for Japanese. So we decided she and her friend go to dinner while moms did something else.

Instead of going for Shabu Shabu, I asked my friend to join me on the Bay with our sleeping bags and thermoses full of hot sake. She loved the idea. It was 43 degrees by the Bay and windy but I was very comfortable in my thermals under ski jacket inside my sleeping bag. This was probably one of the most memorable nights ever. The enormous brightness had in her close vicinity the deep orange Mars fiercely shining. They both just took my breath away, in the way they shared the sky like that, with all other silver stars around them. I had forgotten the wonders moon-watching can do to my state of mind – tonight I was supremely reminded of it. My friend Kitti and I did not speak for over an hour except for occasional humming and cooing.

The most engaging designs I saw in the moon tonight chronologically were an anchor, a child standing on a bed of flowers with a giant butterfly to his upper left, a horse jumping in front of an ocean and a giant hungry scorpion.

My friend told me no matter how long she looks she still sees in a full moon, even this one, the bunny rabbit churning the pot of sake! This is what Japanese folklore offered children of her generation. I thought it was very sweet but gently encouraged her to look for her own stories. She did see a sailing ship and giant ocean waves close to the time she was done with her sake. The tip of my nose and ears were numb from the cold wind. Walking back to the car we talked about other moon-related stories in our lives. Over the years of knowing me she had already laughed about the supposed sightings of imams and Khomeini in the moon. She asked if regime has come up with any new ones. I didn’t know. So we started on our childhood moon-related memories, while walking back to the car. I asked her if she had heard my favorite one. She couldn’t remember.

I was 10, rocking on a chair next to my most favorite person in the world, my aunt Ammehjoon Meehan. We were in Maygoon at their vacation home across from Ghassre Keyhan. For dinner we ate Fatemeh’s fantastic kashk bademjoon with tons of fried garlic. Ammejoon always had her dessert, khorma or candy with tea on the wrap around balcony surrounded by the dark outlines of the mountains where we hiked during the day. She was smoking her nightly cigarette humming Mon Amour while sucking abnabaat ghaychi. I told her I thought the crunching noise of that candy interfered with her singing. She smiled her warmest, kindest smile and said, “azizam eenghadr hassaass nabaash” (my dear don’t be so sensitive)… then my cousins joined us and they had moshaaereh with my oldest cousins and of course Ammehjoon leading. I enjoyed listening to their excited tones, not so much the poetry. I was absorbed by their facial nunaces, their voices, the faux-competitive gestures they made when they were hit with a difficult letter… Then my uncle, Ammejoon’s husband, a subdued introspective law professor, walked in with a serious expression of concern on his face, “Meehan do you and your posse need to be so loud when I’m busy watching the moon? How about bringing children closer to the nature now, take a break from the two poets that you have memorized?”

Ammehjoon lovingly agreed with her husband and trying on a serious face, asked us to pay silent respect to the Moon. Us five kids sat there staring at the beautiful bright full moon quietly for about two minutes until we heard Mash Mammad and his wife Fatmeh making love in their room way over the ghannat-filled swimming pool. I was confused by their sounds. But finally followed everyone’s burst into unstoppable laughter! This time my uncle joined us too…. This was one of the happiest moments of my life.

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