Monday, July 15, 2013

Burning the Midnight Oil

It is the witching hour here at the Newton house, and for some reason I am as wide eyed as the cats who are stalking shadows in the next room.  I'm already regretting my sleeplessness because I know that toddlers wait for no man, and tomorrow Manasseh will be crying for his milk bright and early, as usual.  But here I sit, a square of sea salted chocolate in hand, with the warm night soft around me.

I remember waking up late at night on Luaniua, when the moon was full.  Of course, we had no indoor plumbing, so a trip to the beach was my only option for relief from a full bladder.  The moon was so bright, that it poured like molten silver through the louvered windows, cutting the blackness.  I pulled my lava lava tight around my waist, and slipped through the house, which swayed slightly on its stilts at my movement.  Down the stairs, and out onto the coral perimeter of our house.

I stopped for a moment, taking in the alien starkness that the moonlight gave to the huts around me.  Shadows were thrown into sharp relief, everything was bright silver or black.  A ghost breeze set the coconut fronds above me clattering, and I began padding my way through the huts, towards the distantly pounding surf.

I walked, alone and quiet, through the rustling night.  I passed squat huts, whose slumbering inhabitants betrayed their presence only by the occasional snore filtering through mat walls.  Cooking fires had long gone out in each doorway I passed.  Even the pigs, when I reached them, grunted grumpily and rustled their moon kissed snouts into the sand.

The moon follows the tide.  So when the moon is as round and bright as a silver platter, the ocean draws itself high up onto the beach, further than at any other time of the month, and cleans away 26 days of debris.  It sounds different in this state, and I could hear the altered cadence of the waves as I neared the end of my path.  Breaking through the last of the pandanas trees, I was suddenly out of the world of light upon shadow, and was now fully bared before the moon's gaze.

The beach, spreading out before me, reflected the brilliant light back up into the night, so with the moon above and white sand below, the whole place seemed to glow.  A cool breeze skipped off the waves, coming towards me after eons of travel.  It tugged at the hem of my lava lava.  The moon sang down.  With my toes sinking into the wet sand, I unwrapped my lava lava, clutched an end in each hand, and flung my arms open to the night.

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