Slice of Life

by Meg Heiman

It had been a full day, a leave-the-house-before-eight-and-return-home-after-eight kind of day. But fuller than the day was the moon. And stronger than my tiredness was the moon’s pull. After helping the kids with homework and getting them in bed, I slipped into snow pants and a coat instead of pajamas and stepped outside with my husband and two dogs. <BR><BR>The moon was brilliant. It attracted notice initially because it shone so brightly. We could see clearly down our driveway and through the woods. We were delighted. I ran back inside to grab a scarf and we headed down the driveway for a late night walk.<BR><BR>The stillness of a winter’s night is tangible. We heard nothing but the sound of our breathing and the crunch of our boots in the snow. As we walked a couple miles down our rural road, passing a handful of houses, most whose seasonal occupants left them empty, we talked in whispered voices. <BR><BR>The snow recently fallen upon feet of accumulated snow not only reflected the moon’s light but also made for a splendid setting. Shadow-black silhouettes of the pines and bare birch and maples were like cutout props in a children’s play. Center stage, however, was the moon, nearing its zenith overhead. We were entranced.<BR><BR>Perhaps the moon is compassionate. It pities those living above such-and-such longitude who, by the end of February, may fight the winter doldrums brought on by weeks of more of the same. So it makes a deal with the clouds, for nothing could bring down the curtain on its show as much as they. I imagine the clouds are difficult negotiators, but in the end, they agree to scatter. <BR><BR>Then the moon must confirm positions with the sun and earth, seeking alignment just so, even though they have all been through this before. That the stars in the winter sky take second stage to the moon while it is in this phase must be part of the contract. <BR><BR>A farmer’s almanac can predict when a moon will be full, but it cannot predict HOW a moon will be full. There is no asterisk next to the date of a full moon on a calendar with a footnote indicating the beauty of the moon or the intensity of its light or the fact that it will be accompanied by new-fallen snow. <BR><BR>If we fail to take note of the calendar or the sky, the moon will still draw us near. It seeks assistance from the sun to pull us to attention. Glad am I that this night I followed its lead.<BR><BR>We got home refreshed, but chilled. The wood burner was refilled. I heated some milk on the stove and stirred in a half-cup of tapioca. The house was quiet; kids were soundly asleep, pets on their beds. As I continued to stir the pudding, I decided to ignore the time on the stove clock and the consequences of such a high-calorie late night snack. There are other, more important things in life to heed, such as the pull of a full moon.<BR><BR>TAPIOCA PUDDING*<BR><BR>1/2 c small pearl Tapioca <BR><BR>3 c milk 1/2 t salt <BR><BR>2 eggs <BR><BR>1/2 c sugar <BR><BR>1 t vanilla<BR><BR>Combine Tapioca, milk and salt in a large pot. Stir until boiling. Simmer five minutes, uncovered, over lowest possible heat. Add sugar gradually. Beat eggs in a small bowl; mix in some of the hot Tapioca very slowly to equalize the temperatures of the two mixtures to avoid curdling. Return all to pot. Bring to a boil. Stir three minutes more over lowest possible heat. Stir constantly. Take off heat. Cool 15 minutes, then add vanilla. Serve warm or chilled. *A variation of a recipe found on the back of an Island Tapioca box.<BR><BR>