Updated: Aug 22, 2021
OH WHAT A NIGHT IT WAS!
If the moon is made of cheese, then last night it must have been Red Leicester! Or perhaps it was just a golden-coloured mould. After all, Leicester cheese is usually aged for up to 12 months before it's considered ready for sale and human consumption.
But no, this moon was 'le fromage extraordinaire'! Turning a deep brooding ochre by the passage of the sun, a shadow cast, and a memory evoked of younger days and the power of sisterhood.
I stood in the street for quite a while, telling people who passed to look up at the moon - and they were all so grateful to view such a marvel. Then a startling 'women & children' personal connection occurred for me.
I was standing by the fence to a playground around the corner from my place when a couple of women pulled up in a car. Again I called out for these strangers to look up, and they scurried across the road towards me for the best view.
As we talked, I discovered that one of the women was Gretel Pinniger (back in the '70s & '80s known as 'Madam Lash' for a striptease act with a bull whip staged as radical theatre & now considered a 'national treasure'). Her husband, a builder, renovated the first ABC-community long-day childcare centre for ABC staff and the local Darlinghurst community.
I had been president of the committee to establish the centre through Commonwealth Government funding and the project was viewed as a major breakthrough, extending the previously widespread accepted version of what was adequate care, which offered only limited hours for mothers to find childcare relief - not anywhere near the duration needed for women to work full-time. Once the old Darlo terrace house was remodelled to house a children's centre, one of my two daughters attended, even though I was not pregnant when we'd started the campaign to offer affordable childcare for locals and ABC workers. I'd had no intention to use the centre myself - or even have another child - when we'd hatched our plan to seek government funding.
Yes, my little girl played, slept and ate alongside Gretel's son, cared for by professionally qualified staff. Memories flooded through my mind as I thought back to the commitment and stamina needed by members of the committee, especially its secretary, Kathy Gollan, to see the project through. And images of one Christmas party when Gretel dressed up as Santa Claus and passed out presents. The centre was rehoused away from Darlinghurst when the ABC moved to its new building in Ultimo in 1991.
Last night there we were, not having met since that time, not even clearly remembering each other. An almost out-of-body experience it was, to feel as a young mother again, my body swaying slightly as I stood akimbo, my neck stretched backwards so my head was tilted to see the astronomical phenomenon, my eyes staring into the distance to witness a blurred burnished lunar outline.
In an instant mental flash I realise, under that full red moon on its elliptical path around the earth, that the playground beside me is where, these days, I regularly bring one of my granddaughters to play. A community playground - a social service.
Google tells me the moon is 'a goddess symbol that represents the Maiden, Mother and Crone as the waxing, full and waning moons'. But by now, the 21st century, who believes in 'crones', since women of all ages have their own particular beauty? The moon is also 'a symbol of the spiritual aspects of femininity, such as intuition, psychic abilities, creativity and wisdom'. Now that's more like it!
The personal message for me this morning - the morning after the red moon - was 'as plain as day': the women and children of my family are tied to the cycles of the moon - forever.
As are we all, women under the heavens. A gift from the gods - amazing grace!
text cvwilliams; photos SproutDaily, and Unsplash - Chayene Rafaela.
This SSOA writers' blog is made possible by grant assistance from the City of Sydney.