I love the way little kids think. One fall evening we had a huge bonfire on the beach built from drift logs with a lot of family members sitting around shooting the breeze and poking the logs to make the embers spark and glow, reflecting a golden glow on familiar faces. The forest was a black silhouette of jagged points all around us, with a full moon rising like a ghostly galleon just above them on the far side of the beach.
My nephew Sterling, who was about four, sat on my lap as I sat on the sand and gravel just below the silent woods. He cuddled without speaking for a while until he suddenly stirred and pointed at the full moon. “Look at that, Aunty Tara!”
“I know, it’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I said below all the talk and laughter and the crackle of the fire.
He continued to stare at it and I looked at his engrossed face in the firelight, wondering what he was thinking. He told me a moment later.
“Get that for me, Aunty Tara.”
I stifled a smile at being asked, literally, for the moon. “I would if I could, honey, but I can’t.”
Sterling considered that. Then he said eagerly, “Sure you can. You just need to climb that tree and catch it.”
Left: My nephew Sterling. Right: Moon above the forest, totem pole in the foreground.
I did my best to explain the earthbound facts to him, but in the end I knew I’d failed his faith in me. Instead, I did my best and got him a glow-in-the-dark moon decal to put on the wall near his bed so he could look at it when he went to sleep. And I wrote him a poem that was one of the first things I had published:
A MOON FOR ME
I see you
wherever I go.
I see you
hiding behind the trees
playing with me.
I see you
as I reach out
to make you my own moon.
Ladybug: the magazine for young children, August 1997.
Recently a friend told me her own story of the moon and an older family member…one who came much closer to giving her the moon than I did for Sterling. Here’s her story:
When I was about five, I would stay at my grandparents’ house for a while. That was supreme ecstasy anyway…but my grandfather had been flying since the 1920s, and had a hangar with a few planes. I adored flying, even then, and was even allowed to take the stick sometimes.
I would be in my pajamas, ready to eat, but a brilliant idea occurred to me (as it seemed to me–anyway). I refused to eat. Grandpa asked if I thought that I might have a better appetite if we flew up and kissed the moon good-night. A brilliant idea, indeed!
He had planes in his blood anyway, so this was no great sacrifice to him. He called the hangar, had the guy get the plane of choice fueled-up, and off we went. Me in my airplane pajamas and little house shoes with wings and a prop on them.
We carefully inspected the plane and climbed in.
And taxied out, lifting off to see Mr. Moon.
7/10/2017 12:13:55 pm
Love this story, Tara!
7/10/2017 01:33:01 pm
For those who don’t know, Ryan does a re-cap of Alaska Bush People for TV Insider. (If you’re a fan of ABP, you might not enjoy the re-caps from Ryan’s pov, he writes them with his sense of the absurd well to the fore!)