By the light of the moon

Often when I think of the moon, Eric Carle comes to mind. The children's author wrote a book that, for a time in my household, came out every night as predictably as the Earth's satellite appears in the sky.

I'm not certain what particular piece of "Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me," captured our hearts. My son liked the very long ladder – four pages – that Papa had to get in order to reach the moon and persuade it to come down and play. My daughter liked the phases that the book illustrated as Papa waited for the full moon to become a bit more pocket-size. And me? Perhaps it was the description of a parent for whom such a lofty request seemed eminently reasonable – especially when it concerned an object that seems to inspire a great deal of creative thinking.

Across the world, people dream up all sorts of possibilities about the moon. We discuss its expression and early learn the joy of bidding it farewell before we sleep. Shakespeare cautions us to "swear not" by it, and British Claymation heroes Wallace and Gromit travel there for cheese. At the Chinese Moon Festival, a Moon Lady grants wishes; the Japanese, under the light of the autumn moon, are inspired to write poetry about it.

All this, even after we've traveled there and know a bit more about what the place is really like.

The bright moon that will grace our sky next month as the air cools and crops are brought in, is the subject of Jim Bencivenga's column this week. In America, industrious farmers were grateful for the light that allowed them to work overtime at a crucial period. Those of us less connected to the land simply marvel at the full moon's luminous presence on the horizon. Why does it look so big? To shed some light on the subject, see page 13.

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