A full moon

On my first year as a married woman there was a full moon at Christmas. Last night it happened again, another full moon that is, not another marriage.

I was twenty five years old when I took that leap into marriage and thirty eight years later after thirty eight Christmases, the full moon rises again and with it the extremes of heat on Christmas day and its opposite the following day with heavy rain and cooler temperatures.

A lifetime of contrasts, which suits me well.

Four daughters later and the youngest just visited to greet me in the morning, just as I embark on the solitude of writing and my life as a writer is again interrupted.

Another contrast.

I have sometimes wondered what it might be like if I had been spared the commitments of marriage and children and somehow managed to live alone. Would I then become the serious writer I dreamed of?

And now the dog visits on the prowl for company but he’s into the half open box of bonbons left over from yesterday’s Christmas lunch.  My writing room has once again become the store room at times of stress.

I make it this way. I can’t hold anyone else responsible. When I’m frantic tidying up the mess in readiness for visitors, any excess clutter, which I might otherwise tolerate in the kitchen living area before visitors, I heave into my writing room.

But soon I will de-clutter and change direction.

The other morning I went out early to fetch the newspaper. Eight am and already it was hot with a fierce wind shaking the trees.

‘Where’s the wind coming from?’ my husband asked when I came inside and reported on the weather.

‘I don’t know.  Should I know,’ I asked, and he looked at me and laughed.

I’m geographically challenged, I tell people when I need directions.   Please don’t talk north, south, east or west to me. I’m lucky enough to be able to distinguish my right from my left.

What basic learning did I miss out on as a child? Or is it commonplace, this locational lack?

I’ve heard tell that the female brain is constructed differently from the male brain as regards navigational skills and orienteering, but to my current way of thinking that sounds   constructed.

‘Go out to the front and stand in the garden where there are no trees obstructing your view,’ my husband said, after I asked him how he knows his directions. ‘If the wind’s blowing on your face then the wind is coming from the north.’

We have a north facing front garden. This I have known since we bought this house thirty plus years ago. This was one of its negatives.

Every one here wants a north facing back yard to facilitate a gorgeous garden, where you can raise vegetables and decent plants, but our back yard faces south.

When I am at home I can therefore easily establish where north and south are located and given I know that east is to the side going away from the city then it stands to reason west is in the opposite direction.

I have learned this much and now I know how to establish the nature of wind direction from my home.


But take me away from home and confusion soon sets in again.  It’s dizzying and leaves me as tired as our dog on Christmas day.

6 thoughts on “A full moon”

  1. I always liked ‘What If?’ comics. What if Captain America became president? What if Iron Man sold out? What if Sgt. Fury had fought World War 2 in outer space? (All been done by the way.) What if? What if? I suppose that’s where ‘Living with the Truth’ started out. An alternate reality. As I wrote in one of the early chapters of ‘Left’ (as it stands at the moment):

    “Everyone wants to be somewhere else. Have you ever noticed that? And there are an infinite number of elsewheres. In some parallel universe I expect I would’ve be on my way to the shops right then or most likely still lying in bed. Or on a beach sipping a piña colada. – no, a glass of dry white wine (I forgot piña coladas are made with rum) perhaps a lemony-melon Sauvignon Blanc. I could only imagine who with. Perhaps you. But probably not. Nothing personal, I just prefer my own company. Then again we are talking about another universe after all and so anything’s possible. There will be universes out there were neither of us even exist.”

    For those of us who don’t believe in—or don’t care one way or the other if there is or isn’t—a heaven the notion of an alternate realty is a comforting one. There will be a reality where I went to uni, where I became an English professor and a successful novelist to boot. Maybe even a universe where Jeanette Winterson isn’t gay and we ended up together (she’s only three months younger than me and I’ve always fancied her something rotten).

    I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find that male and female brains are different. Different is not better or worse. It’s just different. I’ve always had a good sense of direction. My daughter has a lousy one. When she first came to stay with Carrie and me she stuck to the routes she knew religiously terrified she’d get lost. I don’t think she’s quite so bad now. That said I have no idea what direction I’m facing right now. Being brought up in the west of Scotland west was where the sea was and so if left was west then north was in front of me. That was the one way I could cope. If I couldn’t see the sea—or didn’t know in which direction it was—then I had no clue and didn’t much care.

    Read an article about Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory earlier on this morning. You might find it interesting.

    1. I read the article, Jim, and yes, it’s interesting and of course, it’s true, memory is unreliable, but I’d hate for the essence of a remembered experience – its emotional resonance and truthfulness – to get confused with the facts of that experience. And some of those folks who get off on false memory syndrome are hell bent on discrediting people on the basis of facts. Sometimes people simply don’t want to know what went on in the past, and given we can never know exactly what went on the past, they use this latter fact to explain away the entire experience. It can drive people who lived through such experiences mad. Maybe that’s what mucks up our sense of direction, the emotional getting tangled up with the facts.

      I like your play on alternative realities. That said, I was never so much caught up in ‘what if’ as I was in the ‘why’ of things. Thanks, Jim.

  2. My husband was a country boy, and a cartographer. His sense of weather and direction was (almost) infallible. He taught me and I now pride myself that i have a skill many people don’t. I can navigate Australia, I navigated Europe, but a recent trip to the US completely turned me upside down and no matter how I orientated myself I could never pick which direction I was going in. How odd.
    And what if, indeed.

    1. Maybe the two sides of the world…how can we talk of sides when the world is round? But we talk of two poles, maybe the two poles can disorient those who lack experience of both, Karen. Like having to drive on opposite sides of the road. I can’t imagine managing that though I expect in time I would if I had to.

      It’s good your husband taught you cartography, Karen. I value the things I’ve learned from my husband, too, those practical earth based skills I’d otherwise lack. Thanks, Karen.

  3. I am also geographically challenged and suffer from directional disability. When I was a Realtor and driving clients around, it was embarrassing how many times I had to do a U turn and start all over again.

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