Roger Barbee: Life is very much like a waxing gibbous moon

Roger Barbee

Roger Barbee

Last night while waiting for dinner and talking with Mary Ann, I looked out the window at the breakfast table where we have morning coffee. It faces east, and offers a fine view of Short Mountain and its foot that leads to Edinburg Gap. I was startled by what I saw — it looked like a full moon, and I told Mary Ann so. And directly above it was a large spot of light that I later found out to be Jupiter. Later when I walked the hound for his night exercise, I stood with him in the back, looking upward to marvel at such a sight.

This morning, just before full light, the hound and I were out again. When I opened the back door I noticed that the morning air was almost balmy. Ah, I thought, it is surely coming. As we walked out to the shop, a streak of orange-pink light rode along the ridge of Short Mountain, captured between its crest and the dark clouds being blown by a high wind from Great North Mountain. As the hound sniffed and those other things that dogs do, I watched the free show of the sunrise. But, too soon the westward wind blew in a large cloud cover, and the sunrise happened behind a dark curtain.

Sitting at the table with my hands wrapped around a cup of black coffee, I watched out the same window from where I had seen the gibbous moon last night. The cloud cover had by now blocked any view of the mountain ridge, but I looked off over the lower treetops at the mist rising from the river, which was so heavy I could trace the river’s path as it flowed in loops at the end of our little road.

During the second cup of coffee, we discussed the day’s plans and the necessity to get to the grocery store because of the dire forecast for more snow. That prediction seemed so far-fetched to me because of the moon, Jupiter, and the sunrise, but everyone seemed to know that it would happen. Will this winter ever end, I whined. Then I remembered the man’s name that is written in a neat cursive on the boxed set of bird books I just purchased at a flea market for Lucinda and Ann, our granddaughters. I had purchased the box set, not noticing the name until Mary Ann pointed it out.

Because the surname written in a gold pen is a well known one of the valley, I went to the computer and “Googled” the man’s name. I found several entries, but the one most useful was, strangely, his obituary from a local paper. The usual information included in an obituary was printed, but what I found most interesting was that one of his many jobs was selling eggs at the Edinburg train station. So, this man loved birds, and he did what he had to do in order to earn a living. Unlike me, in my whining about the weather, I see this gentleman as one of a breed that we do not have much of today in our modern world.

Sure, the weather has been awful. It has cost us much in productivity, resources, and lost time. It is and has been especially difficult for farmers and their livestock. But perhaps we can be more like the fellow who, faced with financial need like all of us are, decided that selling eggs at a local railroad station was better than complaining about the lack of “a good job that pays me good money.” It seems to me that he went out and created something, and I admire his spirit. On top of that, he took the time to appreciate the birds and their beauty.

Life is like the waxing gibbous moon that I saw last night — it may not be what it appears to be, and it certainly will change from one phase to another. But if we will take the time to see a sunrise, or a seemingly full moon, or roll up our sleeves and make something happen, we may realize that “to everything there is a season.”

Roger Barbee is a retired educator who lives in Edinburg with his wife Mary Ann, four dogs and five cats. Email him at

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