Light Fever

“Does the moonlight make you feel different?” asked Guru Baba.

“In what way?” asked Sami. As the holy man’s assistant, Sami was used to indulging Guru Baba, and tonight was no different. He had been given the day off but told that he would be “working all night.” After walking along the canal trail, they had stopped in a field to admire the full moon.

“Do you feel more alert, or less? People respond to moonlight in different ways.”

Sami could say that he felt less alert because it was early evening, when he should be home resting rather than out working. Instead he took a moment to tune into himself, and said, “I should be feeling tired, but I am feeling light, like I’m floating.”

“Very good! Moonlight affects many things in this world – humans, animals and plants too!” Guru Baba scanned the boggy ground, spotted a clump of what looked like rushes, and walked over to them. “Look at these legumes. In the day their leaves are horizontal to soak up maximum sunshine, but at night they change their position to vertical. Why is this? Because they need to sleep. They don’t want too much moonlight, it disturbs their timings.” He called Sami over and pointed within the rushes. “See that little snake there?” He pointed to a grey and black banded snake about a foot long. “He hides during full moons too.”

Sami said, “But aren’t there animals that hunt at night, and flowers that bloom at night? My grandma had flowers she called night lilies…”

“You are right! There are plants that love long nights of moonlight. The sun is too strong for them, they prefer low-intensity light. Did your grandma have lots of night flowers?”

Sami tried to recall. “Yes, she did. She called it her moon garden. Her white and silver flowers stood out in the moonlight, like stars in the ground. They were so beautiful. My sister called them moonas.”

Guru Baba fumbled with his orange robe beneath the waist. He produced a book. “Read this,” he said. The page was bright and Sami started reading, but the letters were vague and soon faded.

“Ha!” said Guru Baba. “The moon wants you to rest and not work. That’s her trick. She won’t let you read at night. And see how she steals colours? Remember that snake? He looked grey and black, but he was really red and yellow. The moon wants peace, not bright colours.” Then he smiled and said, “But she lets you work if you really need to. Without the Harvest Moon how would farmers ever gather all of their ripe crops?”

He pointed to a tall fir, glowing white, and said, “Look at that, a moonlight collector.”

“What do you mean?” asked Sami.

“Why do you think it grew so tall and strong? It’s reaching upwards. Did you know that seeds were taken to the moon by astronauts and then germinated on earth? Their genes have now spread all over the world. That tree wants to visit home.”

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