Sun-kissed, sunbathe, suntan, a sunny disposition. Good morning, Sunshine.
And what of the Moon?
In his magical book, Portrait of the Gulf Stream, Erik Orsenna tells us that the Moon is getting further away from the Earth. No wonder. There is only so much snubbing a lady can take. It must be discouraging to play second fiddle to the Sun, millennium after millennium.
In England, the national mood lifts beyond recognition on a sunny day. Scowling Londoners actually smile at perfect strangers, in the street. Some will even say, “Isn’t it a glorious day?”
Now the Moon can flood the streets of Mayfair with quicksilver, and let the Thames ripple over her image in its waters. Nobody will stop and say, “What a splendid night!”
Time and again, I will be walking back from dinner or a show, with a man. I will suddenly stop in my tracks. The sight of the moon has taken my breath away. He inevitably asks what has captured my attention. I point at the sky. I seldom get an awe-struck response. Actually, no, not seldom – never. They react as though it is just up there, a part of the furniture. Nothing special. If a man is not sensitive to the charms of the Moon, then how can I possibly trust him to appreciate me – a daughter of the Earth?
In Han Suyin’s A Many-Splendoured Thing – in my opinion, one of the most romantic novels ever written – the Eurasian narrator and her British lover sit in a restaurant in Hong Kong, waiting for the Moon to rise in the evening sky. It is the Moon Festival, and the people set off firecrackers to frighten the clouds away from the face of the Moon. The sense of trepidation, of awe, and of love for all that is beautiful, makes it one of the most powerful moments in the book, for when the moon finally appears in all her glory, you feel that our protagonists are drawn even closer together by their admiration of her.
I have always loved the moon. If moonlight ever streams into my bedroom, I open the curtains wide, and go back to bed, basking in its silver glow, feeling protected. I can sit by the window, and watch the moon for hours, breathing in her inspiration. I love all phases of the Moon. I have seen a delicate New Moon crescent suspended from a black sky, over a minaret, in the Alhambra. I have seen a huge, amber Full Moon reflected in the Canal Grande in Venice. I have seen a platinum Gibbous Moon look down on the Palace of Westminster, part of her face hidden, as though under the wide brim of a hat.
Since I was a child, I have dreamed of living in a house with a top room with a glass ceiling. I could then lie in bed, and watch the Moon and Stars slowly travel across the sky above me, as I drifted into sleep.
I do not like scientific programmes or articles about the Moon. I am too much of a romantic for that. I like to see the Moon from the distance nature intended. A distance wide enough to allow room for all my fantasies.
As a child, I wrote fairy tales. In one of them, I imagined an entire realm of castles and music on the Moon. Humans could not see it, of course. Over the course of my life, I have confided in the Moon many a secret, uttered many a wish, and shared many a joke.
There is magic, ispiration, romance and mystery in moonglow.
Oh, and contrary to the lyrics of A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square, the Moon is a she. Most definitely. Just look at her.