It was cold, very cold. William Walcott’s hands were cracked and dry from hours of splitting White Oak in the tiny yard behind his Joiners Shoppe. Normally he would have been home in bed, but with the Christmas season upon the little town of Salem, he was flush with orders of furniture in preparation for the long winter. Jointe Stools and Tavern tables seemed to be especially popular in this year of our Lord 1632. William had heard Mr. Cotton Mather speak of a need for more chairs to be employed as dunking stools in the trial of witches. William put no stock in witchcraft though he would not dare admit to it publicly for fear of reprisals from his neighbors. He just knew that he was very busy supplying the Reverend Mather and the townsfolk.
Fortunately the moon was high and full this fine evening and despite the bitter cold, William was able to work quite well by the bright moonlight. Although, he did find that he was squinting a bit more than usual as he split off another section of the Oak with his beetle and froe. The night seemed to be getting darker and leaning on him like a weight. Perhaps he was just tired. Only a few more scraps to split. They would make good peg stock for securing his tenon joinery. Stepping back to stretch his back, he arched and reached for the sky.
“Mayhaps, the Reverend Mather be just and true afterall, for this site portends great evil is on the move”
William dropped his tools and headed into his shop hoping to escape the evil eye. This day must end, for no good can come from a sign such as this. In the morning he would report his sighting to the Reverend himself. The widow Prynn has always been a bit odd and this is surely a sign of her witchcraft…
…fast forward almost 400 years. A woodworker stands shivering on his front yard staring up in amazement at the lunar eclipse. He should have been in bed hours ago because he is due to leave for his day job in just 3 hours.
“How often does something like this happen afterall?” He justifies to himself one more time and stifles a yawn. He adjusts the exposure on his camera and snaps another picture of the shadow of Earth marching slowly across the face of her satellite. A blue glow catches his eye and he looks down to his phone to see the Twitterverse is alive with people just like himself staring in awe up at the night sky. People all across the northern hemisphere are sharing their thoughts and views of this wonderful event and pictures begin to flood in of the same moon he is gazing all. He is struck by the differences in position of the advancing shadow brought on by thousands of miles distance from his own position.
“How cool is this that I can share this event live with people all over the world, I think I’ll blog about this tomorrow.” Surely this is a sign of good things to come.
***Author’s note. Please forgive my historical inaccuracies and take this little tangent merely for what it is. Fiction. I’m aware that Mr Cotton Mather was not born for some 30 years after the last lunar eclipse on the Solstice, as well as the fact that the movements of our planet and sun were well understood by the mid 1600s. Perhaps not by all however and that doubt is from which this story springs***