The stars are sharp in the sky above us. Sharper still, mountain air cuts tightly into our cheeks. Hands pressed in pockets, shoulders slumped against the cold, we walk closely together, bumping into each other as our words are scratched at by winter air. With wind chill it is -10 degrees on the mountain tonight–easily the coldest temperatures my freckled Texas cheeks have ever felt.
I am walking to dinner with two fifth grade girls who are spending the week at the outdoor education center where I work. In giggling, interrupting bursts they are telling me about their first day on the mountain. It has been an extremely cold first day, so tales of archery, outdoor skills, and team building are all tempered by the experience of keeping hands and feet, legs and shoulders from icing over.
“During Archery today I thought I was going to die.” One girl tells me, tugging on my arm to emphasize her point. “It was so cold. I seriously thought I was going to die.”
“Woah look at that moon.” I interrupt. I am a moon lady. I see, and notice, and love the moon. We stop to look up, and, before we are bumped from behind by the people following us to dinner, we are momentarily suspended with heads tilted back, gazing at the sky. She is a waxing crescent, a tiny bright sliver with a full outline on the other side. Recently I was told that when the moon is a crescent like this, with the perfect line outlining on the other side, that this is when the new moon is being cradled in the old moon’s arms.
Pushed along by the people behind us we continue towards dinner.
“Today has been fun but is it going to be this cold all week? If it is I might die.” Says the first girl.
“You know,” says the second girl. “I think you have to be careful that you don’t forget.”
“Forget what?” I ask.
“Forget to notice when it’s cold.” She says.
When I look at her she is gazing up at the moon, her eyes tracing over stars. Face framed by hats, hoods, and scarves she is cocooned from the cold and in this one moment she gets it. In this one moment this one child is teaching the lesson that we as educators try so hard to convey.
“I mean it’s so beautiful here. It’s not just cold.”
She is right. It is not just cold. It is also dark. And the old moon is being cradled in the new moon’s arms.