My Knoxvillian friend and I spent the better part of the day on the porch, she doing some writing and I learning bibliographic terms. When the sun had gone and the dusk was growing, we ventured out to procure books and crackers. We didn't get very far before we found the moon, a day off its fullness, rising orangely behind a campus building down the street. I debated with myself over whether or not to go back for the camera. "Go," she said. "I'll stand here and guard the moon."
Returned, with my camera, I proceeded to try and catch that orange moon. I do not have a particularly steady hand; I didn't take the time to grab the tripod; the pictures, as a result, have a multiplicity of moons, light swerving and jittering at the centers of my frames.
It was--it is--a night of great coolness and calm, a night of still air and quiet deer and lovely chance meetings in the bookstore and on gravel paths. It is a night of relishing found cheese and strong coffee and hot milk on the porch, in the low light from the study window. It is a night of settling fatigue, a need to sink swiftly into sleep, in a house filled with the heavy-wafted scent of espresso, while my friend hews her academic work downstairs. It is a night of some small mystery; it would seem that I have a new local reader, though I do not know who (hello, whoever you are!).
It is, in short, a night of some serendipity and serene strangeness. Paying for the fruits of our foraging at the bookstore, at nearly 10:45 p.m., we ran into my beloved classics friend, the man who taught me everything I know about Greek, who was making photocopies for a family reunion. Among the pieces he'd copied was an essay his aunt had written in the early 1920s, a kind of sermon called "What Hath God Wrought?". And lo and behold if the end of that piece didn't fit right in with the images I'd been taking (or trying to take) up and down campus for the previous half-hour, not to mention with the life I've been living up and down campus this year: "Let your imagination exercise itself upon the charm of night lit by a clear moon; the awe inspired by rolling thunder-clouds; the grandeur of mountain peaks; or the constant interest of breaking waves. Then, as you have opportunity, revel in the real presence of these wonders, and you will find your inmost soul exclaiming under the pressure of a thrill that never diminishes."
As usual, my inmost soul is exclaiming tonight, even in this quiet. Perhaps especially in this quiet.