Last month's moon.
I joined a group in a going-into-winter retreat this afternoon. It involved a ritual trip to the river--the Rio Grande in this setting. We smudged one another, we walked, we had a four-direction prayer in Navajo, we walked, we read poems, we walked, we stood on the riverbank. We shared a litany, listened to haunting flute music, and we watched as the sun set, the shadows deepened, and eventually the full moon rose over the northern edge of the Sandias, reflecting in the waters of the Rio Grande. We returned (hastily, for we had pretty well all frozen our butts off), shared a meal, read the compline published here earlier, moved tables and chairs back where they normally belong, and headed our separate way. That's the prose version.
Given the snowfall yesterday afternoon, I was very grateful that today, though chilly, was a bright day, full of sunshine and a glorious clear blue sky with only a few clouds hovering around Sandia crest. The sage was heavenly, a restorative scent. We walked with cowbells of varying pitches ringing as we moved through the bosque. Cottonwood leaves mottled the ground, their pale shades of straw and pearl gray washed over with that coppery tint they acquire in the fall. Some still fluttered in the breeze overhead, bright against the azure sky. We passed bushes with branches of a rich color evocative of something between chestnut and cherry, rich red verticalities. Many were bare though a few still held a pastel mist the hue of pale pumpkin rind, though only lightly saturated.
As we neared the river that wonderful autumn afternoon light characteristic of this region gave things a golden wasj. By the time we reached the river and looked across to toward the east bank the trees there were bright with the low-angled sunlight, the water varying shades of blue gray, the Sandias toward the northeast majestic and snow-tipped. As the sun slid lower the bright golden tints faded and the grays and pale muted greens along the opposite bank became more prominent, shadows inching leftward (as we saw it). Eventually the trees lining the river had all settled into shadow and we watched the sunlight retreating up the slopes of the Sandias, tinging them pink, then lavender, then a misty indigo. By the time the sun no longer touched any part of the the earth we could see, the sky took on a rosy hue like some pink veil floating above the mountains.
The flute would play with duck calls. We watched a grebe hold its place amid the river, refusing to float downstream with the current. Small ripples roiled the surface of the Rio Grande as water flowed over vegetation and sandbanks. A new chattering interrupted the stillness of two dozen people waiting wordlessly. Cranes flew in from the southeast, reached the river, then turned north only to settle just upriver from us and near the opposite bank. Party central. More and more groups of cranes arrived, announcing their arrival and being answered by those waiting with the keg ready (or whatever cranes do on Saturday nights). And still more. There will be a wild time by the bosque tonight.
The world grew darker. And colder. I was thinking that with each passing minute our return path was becoming more obscure. We were all chilled. And then a small patch of ivory cream light appeared at the northern edge of the Sandia crest. It grew. It's reflection rippled in the water. The moon rose and she was glorious, radiant, majestic.
I have watched the moon rise in Albuquerque a number of times but never over the Rio Grande. A real treat.
We walked back in rather obscure light. To the southwest a golden gold glow still hovered, silhouetting the cottonwoods. Now and again we saw the moon, now a snow white orb risen higher, revealing herself when the trees thinned. Lovely. I should have sung the Phos hilaron as sunlight fled the riverbank but I sang it now.
Well, that's where I've been boys and girls. What have y'all been up to this weekend?