Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Thinking Back

My fascination with the night sky developed when during my childhood. Maybe it was all those Boy Scout camping trips where one of our scout leaders would spend time point out various stars and constellations. But more likely it was developed during overnight fall fishing trips to Masonboro Island, deserted barrier island along the North Carolina coast. There is nothing more glorious than a full harvest or hunter moon rising right at dusk. As it clears the horizon, the lunar rays seem to skim across the water, right to you. It’s not until it is high overhead, several hours later, that the moonbeam stop following you around. If anything can be more spectacular than the full moon rising, it’s a moonrise a day or two after the full moon. Then the waning moon doesn’t peak over the horizon until long after dark. In the pitch night, fishing on a darken beach, you first notice a glow off the horizon. It appears to be a fire, perhaps like the coast looked in early ’42 when German U-boats were sinking American freighters and tankers offshore. But in time, you notice the slightly shaved moon rise above the water. Fishing on nights when the moon is absent from the sky can also be a treat. On dark nights, one gets to watch the winter constellations make their appearance. The three bright starts making up Orion’s belt rise one on top of the other. When they’re just above the horizon, they seem to be much larger than later in the evening when they’re overhead. And Orion, as he rises above the ocean, appears to be lying down.

When I was a kid, my dad would always have a Coleman lantern sitting up on the beach so we could see to bait our hooks or take the fish off. When I started camping by myself or with friends on the island, I chose to use just a kerosene lantern, which gave just enough light to see, but didn’t cast a blinding glare everywhere. It was always comfortable to be on the beach, under the heavenly bodies. Augmenting the celestial bodies were the five Loran towns at Snow’s Cut and the distant lights on Wrightsville and Carolina Beach.

I’ll have to write more about my kerosene lantern and watching the new moon, but I’m ready to crash and Nevada Jack needs to get to the computer to work on a late breaking story. It appears there is a forging of an unholy alliance against American Girl. Stay tuned!


  1. You make me want to work on my constellation spotting. I'm not that good at it. Plus, being out at night spooks me. I have to remind myself of the quote from 'Cape Fear' - "There's nothing in the dark that isn't there in the light".....or something to that affect. As for the American Girls showdown, my money's on Molly.

  2. You brought me back too! With living on the beach or near the water most all my life...I know that moon and the stars. Being a young child, my dad would take us to the beach w/ the kerosene lantern and gig for flounders. That was always so much fun. We always had a boat for fishing too. (nights and days)

    As I got older, I billfished tournaments for 10 yrs for big game fish in the Gulf of Mexico and other countries. We would be "in no man's land" as I would call it...looking at the stars...and the moonlight for several days. You are mesmerized by the big open sky without any lights from the city. I absolutely loved it for the majority of my life.

    Another great post...(smiling)Thank you for your prayers....

  3. OH dear! Do keep us posted on the unholy alliance!
    I love kerosene lanterns and candlelight..

  4. The American Girl post has been filed... I'll write more (seriously) about my kerosene lantern sometime. As for flounder gigging, I can't imagine a kerosene lantern providing enough light. When I was growing up, we had a jon boat set up for it. There was a deck up front with two lights that were under water. Lights were electic and powered by a car battery. One person would stand there with the gig, looking for the flounders. The other would pole the boat from the back. I don't even think my father has done any gigging in decades--thinking about it brings back memories.