“Take the day and leave us the moon ‘carpe noctum’ and we will seize the night.” – Atticus
I recently read Richard Louv’s book, Vitamin N, and was inspired to incorporate some of his practical outdoor activities in my family life. I started with the moonwalk: a winter walk on the night of a full moon. Our first moonwalk was on the afternoon of my day off, when the sky was still blue and on the cusp of darkening, with streaks of pink clouds on the horizon. Earlier that afternoon, as I parked into our driveway, I looked back at the rear view mirror hoping that the kids were asleep so we didn’t have to go on the moonwalk in the 9°C weather. The kids were both wide-eyed, twisting and turning, eager to get out of their car seats. With their high-pitched voices they announced that we didn’t have to go on a moonwalk because they could see the moon outside the car window anyway. I assured them that the walk would be quick and that we would bring a flashlight and a scooter. We rummaged through the layers of toys, books, and dirty clothes on their bedroom floor – no flashlight. We took out everything in our boot – no scooter. We just had to make do with what the outdoors had to offer.
My knowledge of moon phases are limited to the full moon or new moon so as we were walking, I Googled what the moon phase was for the night: it was the night of a gibbous moon. Just as I was about to Google what a gibbous moon meant, I saw my daughter standing still, eyes to the sky, softly saying that the moon was an almost circle moon, exactly what “gibbous” meant. I put my phone away and watched the kids as they picked up fallen petals and leaves from the front yards we passed.
When we reached a small park, the kids chased each other up and down a path until the dogs from the houses next door expressed their dislike of high-pitched squealing with barks, growls, and thumps on the Colorbond fences.
As we walked back home, I heard my son lecture his sister that “The moon is a star but it is not hot,” while my daughter unsuccessfully insisted that “The sun is a star, not the moon!” My daughter continued to walk, eyes to the sky, stepping backwards, forwards, and to the side like an impromptu dance, only to conclude to her brother that “The moon keeps following us.” For a short walk with no add on toys, our first moon walk has over the next few months, led to my family intentionally lifting our eyes upwards to the sky every night – searching, appreciating, questioning and learning more about this celestial beauty. The “banana moon” is now my son’s favourite moon shape, mine is still the “almost circle moon”.
Want to learn more?
Stroud, R (2009), The Book of the Moon, Walker Books – This book is filled with fun facts about and photos of the moon.