Lunar Eclipse of the Heart

August 29, 2007 at 4:10 am (Uncategorized)

Australia was ringside for the spectacular lunar eclipse last night. Llew called me from the ferry and suggested I meet him at the wharf so we could watch the eclipse over a couple of drinks. A dandy idea, but I was confused: the moon was hanging right over the surf, not the harbourside side. In fact, it was directly out the front of our place. When I got down to the wharf, Llew said “You were right. We should be surfside,” but it was such a still, stunning, clear night, and the eclipse was imminent, and we still had such a superb view in the middle of the Norfolk pines that we decided what the hell, we’d stay where we were.

It was very cool how many people were out doing the same thing. Sydney is often accused of being a cultural vacuum, which is just ignorant, really, as though only rainy, ugly duckling cities can have real depth. It’s like saying there’s no such thing as a super-smart blonde. Absurd. But this ‘superficial’ tag is levelled at Sydney all the time, and I guess things like the Sydney Writers’ Festival, the Sydney Festival, the Wednesday night talks at the Art Gallery of NSW, and all the other myriad things constantly happening in this audaciously beautiful city will slowly chip away at that sour-grapes perception. Regardless of what anyone says, culturally this is a very enthusiastic town.

Sydneysiders love it when something unusual happens. We are, en masse, up for anything. We are not aloof, constantly halted in our tracks (no City Rail pun intended) by such a range of phenomena that there’s not enough space here to recount it all. Just a few examples: the Olympics, the QEII, U2, NYE, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, festivals (art, film, food, wine, music), growers’ markets, restaurant and exhibition openings, premieres from Bauhaus to Borat, the Boxing Day Sales. Anything goes. So last night, armed with the knowledge of some kind of astronomy show, Sydney came out in force for a sticky-beak.

Now, apparently the lunar eclipse was visible all over Australia, so I’ve no doubt millions of us enjoyed it last night, but I have to admit to a real rush of affection for my fellow Sydneysiders last night as Llew and I walked to the beachfront to have dinner under a deep red moon. There were so many people sitting on the beach promenade watching this strange sight: whole families, groups of friends, delighted visitors, old timers and permanent residents. We were all instantly transformed into devoted moon-gazers, just because it was there, happening right before our eyes, on a perfect, starry, full moon Sydney night. People of all ages, races, nationalities and religions, sitting quietly, staring at this special moment in time, just taking it in. Everyone together. And if that’s not a valid, valuable cultural characteristic, I sure as hell don’t know what is.

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