Kage Baker kept close watch on unusual natural phenomena – rains of fishes, lost cities found, comets and bolides and mysterious sounds in the wilderness. They fascinated her – partly because they were fair game for plot points, if no one managed to explain them adequately.
She rather hoped for the inexplicable anyway, as there are too few everyday mysteries in life. It always thrilled her to know about a new one; she liked the oddities that could not be easily explained, even though she felt there were really very few of them to be seen. No matter how peculiar a report might be, the odds were high that a good close look would reveal a logical reason for, say, blue and red striped sheep being reported in rural Marin County.
(And there was – old-fashioned breeding on a new sheep farm, using a chalk tally technique unknown to the neighbors and the local press. Details provided, for education purposes, on request.)
Tonight’s “Super Moon” is a lovely example. This is not a rare event, since it occurs every 27-odd days when the Moon is at perigee – that is, closest to the Earth in its monthly orbit. The only unusual thing about tonight’s perigee is that it happens when the Moon is full: that hasn’t occurred in about 20 years. It means the Moon will be brighter than usual. But it will only be as close as it was … last month. Or next. Not really very exciting, except for the people letting their own innate primate hysteria rise to the top of their brains to overpower their cerebrums.
Kage would have liked this because it was rare; because it will be very pretty, if the skies are clear at sunset/moonrise; but most of all, because of what it reveals about humans in general. To wit, a depressing number of us are still operating emotionally at the level of chimpanzees doing a thunder dance, hooting and howling and banging branches on rocks to intimidate the scary stuff in the sky.
Chimpanzees do that, you see. And so do humans, though we swing bigger branches and make more noise. It’s one of those places where the 5% difference in our genes makes no difference at all. We may stand up straighter and have less hair, but our reaction to celestial spookiness is pretty much the same as our cousins. We’re pretty gleeful about it, too – there are an astonishing number of doomsayers on line about this, happily predicting the end of the world. Or at least the end of Japan and California.
I’ll admit, I will be ever so embarrassed if the big one hits tonight and I end up at the bottom of the Catalina Channel with the dead sardines. However, I am confident that if I do, it will be one honking huge coincidence, born of the fact that I live in earthquake country and sometimes the dice come up snake eyes when we do that old do-si-do with the Pacific Plate. It’s damned unlikely, though – in fact, with the way the plates arranged around here, it’s slightly more likely that the USA east of the Rockies will subside, rather than that California will fall off its own edge.
Alas, I probably won’t even get to see the Super Moon. Clouds are pouring into the Los Angeles Basin right now. It rained this morning; it’s due to rain much more heavily tonight. It will be a marvel of icy light and frozen waves atop the storm, but we down under its lid will miss it. Unless we get some thunderstorms, it will just be one very wet, cold, dark Saturday night. Sigh …
Kage would hope for a break to the East at moonrise, and a thunderstorm over the sea. We’d light candles and listen to the thunder and she’d tell me what happened to Lord Ermenwyr one time when he was running a dinner-and-sex club in some city of the Children of the Sun; when the cook quit and the Runners’ Guild was picketing the place and the head croupier got light-fingered with the gaming chips …
Now, that would be exciting.