Mother Nature once again delighted last night with clear skies which allowed perfect viewing of the full lunar eclipse which was gorgeous in the brisk albeit clear 16 F air. As the night was without wind the conditions were just about perfect and I took full advantage of them to enjoy yet another of Nature’s plethora of light shows. Right around 02:00 AKDT one of the local dog teams was spooked as they really began to kick up a ruckus of barking which eventually changed over to howling before finally dissipating. Without question this seemed the perfect accent to the slowly darkening moon.
In an odd coincidence Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) decided to add a bit of its own ‘atmosphere’ to the evening by dropping power to this area around 02:55 AKDT which almost matched the moon’s fully eclipsed surface. I didn’t notice at first as I was on my back porch with all the lights out to facilitate the viewing. Only when I went inside to grab a cup of hot tea did I realize there were no readouts on any of the appliances; even in my rather sleepy state I immediately recognized the power was down. Interesting that it should occur on a clear, windless evening with just slightly below normal temperatures. This was the tenth time MEA has seen the power fail in this area during 2014. To be fair five of those times saw interruptions of less than three minutes but even so they’re on track to see one power interruption per month. Because they have a checkered past with respect to reliable electricity I am well prepared with strategically placed candles, lighters and flashlights and so took the event in stride. Power was finally restored around 06:30.
As I returned to my back porch it dawned on me that now I was watching this majestic natural occurrence just as folks would have viewed it back one hundred years and more. While a warm drink would’ve been nice standing on my back porch viewing the celestial event with just my warm three layers of clothing, down booties and gloves was probably much closer to how my distant relatives might have been dressed had they chanced upon such an occurrence. With the infrequent howls of the local canines providing a dramatic back drop for the slowly progressing lunar eclipse I really felt at one with my natural surroundings. Except for the aforementioned canine contributions the night was incredible silent and it was somehow peaceful to watch the moonlight slowly decrease as the earth’s shadow marched inexorably across the lunar surface. I wondered how my ancestors would’ve stayed warm in such conditions and what they would’ve thought of the lunar eclipse creating the ‘blood moon’.
Currently most humans have some amazing technology which allows us to be comfortable in otherwise uncomfortable conditions and allows us to do just what I was doing – viewing a full lunar eclipse outside – in comfort. But I also recognized on this cool, clear morning that this same technology removes us from being truly close to Nature and I’m not so sure this is a good thing. While I am not suggesting we return to a lifestyle before electricity, sewage systems and natural gas or fuel oil I have come to believe that most of us are so insulated from our natural surroundings we’ve almost completely lost touch. We’re so consumed with our portable communication devices, our computers, TVs and virtual realities we pay little to no attention to the natural world. I now understand better why I so love my rural Alaskan lifestyle; it not only allows me but forces me to be in touch with my natural surroundings. And in so doing I’m so much more balanced, more centered and more serene. I’m hardly ready to give up a lot of my ‘creature comforts’ yet I do understand their negatives with respect to isolating me from my natural surroundings and so I can choose to forgo them to any degree in order to maintain the harmony and balance I receive from being closer to Nature. So now I much better understand my slow drift away from all things technological and my outright embracing of a simpler, more basic lifestyle…