Saturday, August 1, 2015

Once in a Blue Moon

Photo by L.S. Fisher, color enhanced
There’s been a lot of talk about blue moons lately.

“Why is the moon going to turn blue?” my granddaughter asked a few weeks ago when we were talking about the upcoming blue moon. Her mom explained that a “blue” moon had nothing to do with color and meant two full moons occur in one month.

We just had a blue moon—at least according to some sources, but in our time of too much information, some purists disagree with this definition. Up until 1946, a blue moon was the third full moon in an astronomical season with four full moons. The confusion came about when James Pruett, a hobby astronomer, published an article that said a second full moon in one month was a blue moon. Although the mistake was noted and refuted, the information had already spread worldwide and became the accepted definition of a blue moon.

Let’s face it. It’s much easier to notice a second moon in one month than to determine how many full moons occur in a season.  According to the original definition of a blue moon, the one we just celebrated was not, in fact, a blue moon. One that we will ignore, most likely, will occur May 21, 2016—the third full moon in an astronomical season. But we will easily notice the one January 31, 2018, the second full moon in the month.

By either definition, a blue moon doesn’t occur too often, and the expression, “once in a blue moon” means something that happens rarely. Some reasons for those “once in a blue moon” occurrences:

Something we don’t like to do and put off. In this category are chores like washing windows, cleaning the garage, and pulling weeds. Tedious, time-consuming tasks that always seem better left for another day. Same goes for uncomfortable, routine medical tests like mammograms, colonoscopies, or endoscopies. Procrastination, indeed!

We’ve gotten out of the habit. We haven’t gone to church for a while, so Sunday seems like the perfect day to sleep late. After missing two or three club or committee meetings, we are out of the loop, and choose to leave it that way.

Not enough time. Life is so busy now that we don’t have time to phone a friend much less visit a loved one with Alzheimer’s in the nursing home. Busy, busy, busy. That’s how most of us live now. We’re so busy being busy that we miss out on the important things in life.

Maybe in reality, it is fine for some things to happen once in a blue moon, but others shouldn’t. It’s really up to each of us to decide what goes into which category—once in a blue moon or much more frequently. Just living isn’t nearly as important as having a life.  

In my world, things that happen once in a blue moon, or rarely, could be considered somewhat common. I’m okay with that most of the time, but sometimes I have regrets that I didn’t make that phone call or visit a loved one. Maybe, at least once in a blue moon, I should just take time to lounge in a lawn chair in the shade of the oak tree, sip a mint julep, and read a trashy novel.

Copyright © August 2015 by L.S. Fisher

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