Winter Begins and Ends

SUBHEAD: A challenging winter bookended by two special moons. Let's hope this spring ends like a lamb.

 By Juan Wilson on 21 March 2011 for Island Breath -  
Image above: Full moon with rainbow halo similar to moon observed in the wee hours of 3/20/19. From (

The winter of 2010-2011 began and ended with celestial special events. A full lunar eclipse on the night of December 21st and a super full moon on March 19th. The latter was because the moon was nearer to Earth than it has been in a generation, so it was bigger and brighter than normal. Depending on where you were you might have seen these wonders.  

Winter Begins
Our gang decided to view the lunar eclipse from Puolo Point situated between Hanapepe Bay and Salt Pond Beach Park. It is flat grassy land and has a great view plain from east to west for viewing the sky. There were enough of us interested in seeing the moon to require four vehicles. We had three 4WD trucks and a rental sedan. s most on Kauai remember, this was a rainy fall and winter. As we drove out in a caravan to Puolo Point we encountered some deep mud along the track.

We eventually found a passable way to the spot we wanted and began unloading some chairs, coolers and other accessories we had packed. Soon however we realized two things. It was heavily overcast... to much to see the moon... and we were missing on vehicle - the sedan. As the drizzle began to intensify one couple decided to bail and got back in their 4WD for the trip back to town. It was iffy that the rest of us would stay.

We felt we needed to hold out until our friends in the rental showed up. After about 15 minutes we saw their headlights bobbing along the fence line of Burns Field airstrip. They appeared headed towards a trail with some heavy mud ponding. I climbed up into the bed of my pickup and tried to wave them off with a flashlight. No luck.

My friends interpreted the signal as an invitation towards the mud. They got stuck front first to the door frames. Getting them out required standing in the mud in front of the car and grappling with the bumper to push them backwards.

With an assist from one of our trucks using a rope tied to the rear we got them out... but not before the spinning front-wheel-drive tires sprayed a fountain of mud at those of us pushing from the front. It was all quite funny... "Dawn of the Mud People!"... But, we never saw any of the moon eclipse that night.

Image above: Juan Wilson and Linda Pascatore covered in mud. Not from pushing car but helping set-up saltpans at Salt Pond in 2009.  

Winter Ends
A group of younger friends joined us camping near Queen's Pond, between Barking Sands and Polihale on the west side. As usual, it was a challenge driving out there through miles of washboard dirt road and drying mud holes.

At first it was quite windy when we set up the big umbrella at our camp. We had to tip it sharply into the wind and anchor it with our ice chests. By sunset the wind had died down. The waves were big but orderly when the moon rose over the pali. Our worries about clouds were unwarranted.

The scattered clouds only made the sky more interesting as the enlarged moon played hide and seek. it may have been the brightest and biggest moon I have ever seen. It surely was for those among us under 30. The moon had a rainbow halo, gradating from light blue to violet to pink, much of the night. Every crab-hole cast a shadow along the shorebreak.

We got up several times during the night just to marvel at the lighting on one of the most dramatic landscapes on Kauai. We could see the moon before it set even in the light of morning. In spite of the ongoing tragedy in Japan and the threat it represents these few hours were a beautiful end to a long winter.


1 comment :

John House Wilson said...

You guys look great! I think I need some of that red dirt.

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