I’ve been wild about astronomy since I learned about the way the moonrise time and location varies according to the season and the phase of the moon, and my obsession has led to hours of youtube videos and kitchen-table models made of oranges and flashlights. So, as you might imagine, Monday’s summer solstice/full moon/blue moon was a Big Event!
I have friends who live on a little farm out in the Columbia Gorge, out past the sky-dimming lights of the city, and we decided to watch the sunset and moonrise up on their hill. We set up our observation station—a blanket, tequila sunrises (obvs, also sans tequila) and a hand of Uno—at the highest point, in a sea of pale, waist-high grasses bent with heavy seed-heads. We didn’t quite catch the sunset, but the sky was all shocking pink and flaming orange clouds, and soft blue ones, wooly and almost close enough to touch. We picked out planets (Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter!) in the growing dusk, freaked out about how small Earth is in relation to Jupiter, and tried to figure out exactly where on the eastern ridge the moon would come up.
There was a small, half-round glow above the ridge, so faint I couldn’t be sure I wasn’t imagining it. Then a tiny light appeared, in the trees, below the glow. The tiny light became a scatter of sparks, blazing through the lower branches of fir trees at the top of the ridge. Slowly, slowly, the curve of the moon rose above the trees. It was a fiery, shimmering orange-yellow, the color of the sun rising on a sweltering summer morning; nothing like comfortable yellow of a full moon hanging low in the city sky. The trees in front of it wavered, as if they might burst into flames at any moment. We watched, transfixed, as it rose so fast we could almost see the moon’s movement, and we speculated about whether, watching the rise of the moon, we could perceive the speed of the earth’s rotation. As the moon cleared the trees, we sat on the hill basking in it, amidst the waving grass. We could see each others' faces clearly in the golden-half light, and the grass stems made shadows on my legs.
Eventually we had to tear ourselves away for sleep, so I retreated to my cozy truck-camper nest, and I pulled a card for the day: Three of Pentacles. One friend lifts up another on their shoulders, helping the friend to reach high on the wall to draw moons and stars. This card is about community. Not the facet of community shown in the Three of Cups, the pure sweetness of friendship and shared celebration, but the facet of cooperation, of showing up for each other to do tangible things.
A friend recently posted about the concept of moving from individual self-care to community care*, in the context of Orlando, which is something I want more broadly but struggle to understand how to make real in my life and more broadly. I often feel alone, exhausted, and like I have little to contribute, having left an intense job several months ago and slowly recovering from vicarious trauma and burnout.
But as I thought about the Three of Pentacles, I noticed the small, quiet ways community functions in my world. I often go out to that little farm in the Gorge to shovel gravel and clear brush and paint chicken coops, and my friends feed me and listen to my tales of job-hunting woe and walk through the woods with me and lend me their chickens for snuggling and their hill for moon-watching. Friends have let me borrow their cars and bought me midday cocktails and made me dinner and shared professional contacts and listened endlessly. I’ve edited friends’ cover letters and made them dinner and mentored students and given tarot readings and also listened endlessly.
These are just little acts. They aren’t things my white middle-class upbringing taught me to see as valuable, as security. But I've been broke enough for most of my life that I've struggled to access those middle-class touchstones, and it's working class/mixed class activists' writing that has helped me see alternatives and grasp a more nuanced class narrative.**
Showing up for each other is a powerful thing. Doing a little more when we can—consistent with our actual abilities and needs, not the ideal of the “perfect activist” or “perfect friend”—and learning to discern between the discomfort of the unfamiliar and the discomfort of the harmful, is powerful. For me, this web of small, tangible acts of community has lifted me up, even in the midst of struggle and uncertainty in my own life and in the larger world. And that feels like a beginning.
* This is a concept that a lot of folks have written about, and I've tried to gather a few important examples. I would love more resources in comments if folks want to share others. YASHNA: Communities of Care, Yashna Padamsee; see also this article that appropriates Padamsee's points and romanticizes poverty to explain why we all just need to do more labor, and this lovely response. Here's another take. Finally, this piece by Leah Lakshmi Piepnza-Samarrasinha is relevant to community care as well as class complexity.
**LLP-S's piece, cited above, is one example, as well as this piece. Here's another interesting article that talks about class status in the context of sliding scales.