For the second time tonight, I wake up. It’s 3:00 am. I have an urge to write, but I am called outside by the howling wind.
The winds speak constantly here.
I turn off all the lights in the house, walk thirty steps towards the river with my flashlight off, then I look up. If somebody had dropped a plumb line from the moon, it would hit me on the head. The moon is like a huge hole in the middle of the sky. The only way to look at the brilliant moon, without contorting my neck and waist, would have been laying on the ground. I am tempted, but discard the idea. The dew on the grass, which until yesterday was suffering from the 3-month drought, is so intense that in thirty steps my socks are already wet, despite my rubber slippers. My clear, dark moon shadow is right under me. I take steps in all four directions and can only step on my own full shadow. Nothing precedes me or follows me. No shadows on the sides. My arm extended forward shows a shadow on the ground. I try to take a picture, but no settings capture it, flash or no flash. It’s magical. Dark magic. And I am awake. I understand now why the Romans built the Pantheon with the hole in the middle of the dome. And so did the Maya and other ancient civilizations in their temples.
The shades of blue on the sky are painted on a perfect upside-down bowl, sprinkled by millions of tiny stars.
The blue around the moon hole is almost black. Almost. If that color needed a name it would be black-blue or blue-black. Coming down in all directions the black-blue slides into dark blue, and keeps lightening gradually until it gets close to the earth. It almost touches the black shadows of the trees, except for a small thin band of weird light turning into dark purple. The sunrise is still at least three hours away. Yet that purpled-blueish band around the edge of the upside-down bowl turns dark purple as it touches the black shadows of the trees, all 360 degrees around me, all in the same tone. The confluence of lighter blue into darker purple into black is weird, yet intriguing. As the sky darkens towards the moon, I think of the Romans and the Maya.
The contour of the edges of the horizon break into the purpled-blueish circle. The trees look black, like shadows. I know that last night they were different shades of green. My tree is there, next to my bench, at the edge of the cliff, saving it from falling 40 feet into the river. Far to the west, almost at the horizon, the moon makes a tiny silver sliver on the river. No wonder the Spaniards sailed through this river in one of their many searches for the legendary El Dorado. No wonder the locals are full of stories about treasures in these lands - which are never found - and are only transformed and kept forever into legends.
The animals are all asleep and the quietness is deep. Absolute silence.
This is truly ‘the quietness of the night.’
Last week the howling monkeys cried loudly during three consecutive nights, calling desperately for rain. Two days ago their call was heard. Two hours of rain fell, but no big storm; it measured less than a quarter of an inch. The river is getting lower and lower by the week. New sand banks are revealed almost daily. If this drought continues, soon we’ll be able to walk 100 yards to the first island.
Suddenly a dog barks in the distance. The moon dome amplifies it. It’s a single dog. And it’s clearly barking, not howling. The locals say that when the dogs howl, they are seeing ghosts remaining from the war with Paraguay. They say that if you don’t believe in ghosts you should rub your eyes with the dog’s tears when they howl, then you will see them and believe. Tonight’s is a single dog barking, far from the river, to the northeast, near the road. It must be somebody coming home from a late party. Pensive, I go back to the house, back to bed.
Another special night in Itá Porá. June 6, 2023.
Full moon rising in Itá Porá (Bella Vista, Corrientes, Argentina) about 7:30 p.m.