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Friday, July 17, 2009
I tried to take better pictures of the Enchanter's Nightshade today, but they aren't in focus. I checked the Clammy Ground-Cherry, but it's not ready to give up its other secret yet. But I also looked up in the western sky this morning, almost mid-day, and there was the moon! I snapped its portrait.
I hadn't really thought about what day it is until the news came on this evening... Where were you 40 years ago today, when the world changed and shrunk by a 239,000 mile commute? Yes, just in case you happened to not recall the date, it was July 16, 1969 when humans headed for the moon! (Landing date July 20)
It seems more fantastic to me now than it did back then. Hubby and I were one year married, just out of college. We were on the leading edge of the baby boomers entering the work force. The world was being conquered by computers, medical breakthroughs and the discovery of the double helix of DNA, the wonders of quantum physics... Anything seemed possible!
The night it all happened was for us the eve of the second long-distance bicycle trip (for a group of teens) that my husband led. The equipment truck was packed, the kids were spending their last night at home before boarding the bus to the starting point in the morning. We had a few quiet minutes to watch the historic moment at the home of some friends. We were so poor we didn't even have a TV!
To me-- young, sure of my invincibility, and born just in time for the computer age-- it all seemed exciting, but yet pretty much a normal progression of events.
Older now, and less sure of everything, I've wondered at the simplicity of the universe in 1969. The trip to the moon was charted with plain Newtonian physics, plotted by a Cray Supercomputer. The Cray of that year was the equivalent of a 286 processor! When was the last time you used something as wimpy as a 286 to even calculate your taxes? Maybe in 1995? That world was predictable to all but the most esoteric of scientists who were just cracking the shell of particle physics and indeterminacy. It was quite easy, before that night to think of the moon as up, and high school students had never heard of a down quark.
I often think how that night must have seemed to my grandmother. She died in 1973 at the age of 91. That puts her birth date at 1882. She was born in a world where the scientists were building internal combustion engines. She went to market once a week in a horse and buggy, and yet she lived to see that moon walk. Her generation witnessed what seems to me to be the most sweeping changes in everyday life, accomplished by the engineering technology of humans, in the history of mankind.
Well, it has been proven that the world is an uncertain place. We've always known it, really, it's just that there are mathematical equations to back up all those feelings now. But somewhere, behind all that uncertainty, I still believe in the goodness and truth of One who understands it all, and for that One there is only certainty.
Good Morning, Moon!
See Moonsong in A