Reflections on the Harvest Moon

Time is but a warped instant and I am but a warped child

I am standing on the porch watching the Harvest Moon rise through the trees to the south east from the farm. I am facing Highway 56 and it’s about 8:40 EDT in the evening. There were times in 2020 when I did not think I’d be be here to see this. I think most of us felt that way sometime during this past year. There were things we would never see and we could be gone in a few months or before sunrise, who knows? But I am here and I’m watching the Harvest Moon rise, my favorite full moon of the year. I am grateful. I am grateful that I’m alive and that I have a future. I’m grateful that I can still think and dream and work.

Anyway I’m standing on the porch, it’s a nice evening, and I’m gazing at the harvest moon rising higher and higher.  It is about 25° now above the horizon and I’m thinking of Russell‘s paradox. Consider the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. The question arises, is this set a member of itself?  We then reason it cannot be because it is the set of all sets that are not members of themselves.  If it were a member of itself then it would contain a set that is a member of itself, namely itself, so it cannot be a member of itself. However, if that’s the case then it is a set that is not a member of itself and therefore belongs in itself which is the set of all sets the are not members of themselves. That’s Russel’s paradox. It was part of the crisis in logic and reasoning in naive set theory that shook the foundations of mathematics like an earthquake around the start of the 20th century. So we therefore have the conundrum, there is a set that is not a member of itself that is not a member of the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. It’s a set that exists in the magic elsewhere or splits the universe into two versions.

The moon continues its silent, all encompassing presence. I’m so grateful I’m able to see the moon tonight. I was worried I would not be able to because there were rains forecast. Last night it was covered by clouds but tonight, October 1, I can see it. I love the Harvest Moon! The State troopers just went by. I saw the horizontal stripe on the side of their door in a reflection from something as they passed.

  • A helicopter is approaching from the distance in the night sky. I can see its red light flashing as it moves to the west. It sounds like a state trooper, government, or military helicopter. Can you hear it? I’ll make a recording

Silence. Silence of the September night. It’s a little cool in the 50s but when the traffic finally dies down a little silence fills the night, save for the far off howling of a pack of coyotes. It’s just about 9 PM and the Harvest Moon is now about 30° above the Southeast horizon. It’s hard to tell exactly because there’s a hill rising before me to a crest several hundred feet away before it falls back towards a marsh. Then there is a railroad. On the other side of the railroad tracks and up another hill about a half mile through the woodlands it turns into a sandy, more open spot at the top among the evergreens and White Birches. From there we can look down across the farm fields another half mile away to see John Margittay‘s farm in the distance on the Knapp’s Station Road. After graduating from high school I walked to that hill a number of times, thinking about what I wanted or should or needed to do now that I was out of school. College was not yet on my radar, I was incredibly provincial and naive. The Viet Nam War was beginning to heat up and the draft was still being used in those days. Every young man I knew expected to be drafted into the military sooner or later. I pondered volunteering for the Army, but two years seemed like an incredibly long commitment to me in those days.

The moonlight intensifies. My thoughts wander back to John. He was one of my longest associates in this world. He passed on the morning of March 29, 2019. I went to see his grave at Hale cemetery near the New York Central railroad tracks a half mile down the road from his farm and the Margittay homestead a couple of times, most recently about two weeks ago on my motorcycle. The farmhouse has been razed, taken down within a few months of his death. The farm buildings and barn are still there. I believe they auctioned off the machinery. We bonded in second grade in Mrs. Babcock’s  class 68 years ago. It was during recess or perhaps some kind of time for social interactions and we bonded telling tall stories about our adventures sliding our sleds down the hills in the winter. We laughed and laughed and laughed with each story more fictional and preposterous than the last. We’d been acquaintances ever since and throughout our lives we were never really close but when we saw one another we felt very comfortable in each other’s presence. At both high school class reunions I finally attended in more recent years I spent most my time sitting next to John. In more recent yers he was operating a farm machinery repair shop on his farm. I enlisted his help on finding a number of tractor parts and repairs for this farm. He also welded a modification to an old car frame to mount a larger engine for Tom and I back in the mid 60s but now he’s gone along with yet another classmate, Betty Cutler, whose passing I fairly recently learned about. I never knew Betty. She was one of those tall, ditzy girls but I always liked her. Sometimes I just feel like crying.