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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Once in a Blue Moon (01/06/11)

TITLE: one cool, clear night in a winter barley field
By Jim McWhinnie


On clear nights, when the clouds of day had all went away, my Granddad and I would go for a walk. He would smoke his briar wood pipe filled with Black Cherry tobacco and I would learn of the pure and ancient stories.

We would step off the porch steps, leaving behind the light cast through the farmhouse windows. And with each step, the man-made light would be replaced by the moonlight. Some nights the moon was as muted blue sunshine, the light that you imagine in stories of enchantment. Some nights the moon was more a half-light, a whispered light brought by a quarter-moon, low-slung in the sky. Now and then, the nights were solely starlight nights, the moon having gone away, the fainter stars then appeared.

We would walk down the long, dusty drive until it began to make its bend and rise up to the county road. The drive turned to the right, but we chose the other course through the wooden gate to the barley field, twenty acres of cleared land, perfect for old men and young boys to do their sacred work of stargazing.

It is an ancient rite, this telling of stories that are remembered in the stars. Old men, in their time, draw the eternal pictures with their finger, tracing from star to star the images that have always been there. These stars and their stories had been there for the old man since he was boy; they had been there for his father and grandfather; they had been there for the forebearers as they crossed the sea; and they had been there for the shepherds of long ago. And with every touching of generation dying off and the generation coming on, the eternal stars and their stories were once again remembered and retold.

The stars had always been there, faithful in the traveling of their courses. But on one clear night, a December night, a new star was born, a star that had never been and thus had never had a story. We stood in quiet amazement at this disruption in the way the sky has always been. The pause was long for we knew we were in one of those changing moments of life of skies and stars and ageless stories.

It was then that the old man in my life chose to speak. “Sometimes,” my Granddad said, “sometimes in a blue moon (whatever that meant) God creates a new star.” And so, in that cool, clear night in a winter barley field, an old man and a young boy told a story of what this new star did mean.

Yes, night skies and stars are eternal, but still – once in a long while – something new is added by their Creator.

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This article has been read 631 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Henry Clemmons01/14/11
A very well crafted story,not too much description to distract from your story, but just enough. You held my attention from beginning to end. This read very poetic and also reminded me of THE star. Great job. Two thumbs up from me.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/15/11
Lovely, lovely prose from a poet's heart.
Shelley Ledfors 01/15/11
Lovely. As others have said, you put me right there in that barley field gazing at the stars. Thanks for sharing this.
Carol Slider 01/15/11
An absolutely lovely story from beginning to end--pure poetry in prose form. I love the emotion here, calm yet deep. Very well done.
Glynis Becker01/16/11
Great descriptive writing. I really enjoyed this.
Beth Muehlhausen01/16/11
A touching tribute to a kind of shared generational manhood that probably has become rare in this day and age.
Mariane Holbrook 01/17/11
Very, very nice job. You deserve big time kudos for this one!