Strong and black

Saturday March 11, 2006

“What on earth was that!” exclaimed Graham, responding to a loud crack and an ‘ouch!’ from me that disturbed the peace of the house this evening.

“It was my pesky knee,” I said, giving it a good rub.

“Sounded dreadful. Does it hurt?”

“Nope. Not now.”

“Good. You’ll be able to make a cup of tea, then.”


Which signifies the correct level of sympathy and attention required as the aches and creaks set in. Plenty of sympathy and attention when needed but no more than that. Couldn’t be doing with a permanent state of sympathy and attention.

You have to grin and bear it, you see. Otherwise it becomes your master when it deserves no such status. Aches and creaks are part of getting older. Thankfully, they grow slowly and gradually over the years, giving you time to get used to them one by one. If they all hit you in a sudden simultaneous blast you’d be justified in complaining. As it is, you get to know and regard them as companionable old friends, helping you through the days and nights. Leastways, you do if you’re sensible about these things.

“‘Ere!” he said a little while later, popping his head into the kitchen from a late night trash trip. “You should come and see the moon!”

I joined him out on the drive in the darkness, to witness an enormous ring around the moon, occupying a good quarter of the visible sky. Inside the ring it was clear and crisp; outside, there was a light haze over the sky. It was as if the moonlight had punched an enormous hole through the upper atmosphere.

“Cripes!” I said. “You don’t see them too often. It must be cold up there.”

“Is that what you call a moonbow?”

“No. Close, but a moonbow is reflected moonlight. A moon ring is when the light is difracted and bent by ice crystals on its way to your eye. Like a trillion trillion little prisms.”


“S’pose so. Cool, though.”

We didn’t spend too long moon gazing. It may have been warmer down here than up in the stratosphere but it’s all relative.

“They used to say rings around the moon were warnings of bad weather to come,” I remarked when we came back into the comfort of the kitchen.


“Yup. And the number of stars you can count inside the ring indicate how many days it’ll be before it arrives.”

He stuck his head out again. “I can see only one,” he said.

“There you are, then.”

“How do you mean, there you are?”

“Oh, I dunno. Folklore is like that. Sounds sensible and isn’t.”

“Ah. Coffee?”

“Please. Strong and black.”



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