ArchivedLogs:Drawing Down the Moon
|Drawing Down the Moon|
"... how things been lately, s'important t'remember how t'keep playin'. This -- this is nice."
From indoor gardens to outdoor, though without the protective greenhouse glass the back gardens do not last all year round. Still, the gardens out here are well-tended and well-worth spending time in, as well. The paths wending through the beds of flowers and herbs and vegetables spread out through the school's back grounds, tended by students as a credit class. Benches offer seating and a small pond is home to koi and turtles, as well as a few frogs. At the far back edges of the garden, a droning buzzing marks a few stacked white boxes as beehives.
The bright moon riding high amidst scudding clouds was full when it rose a few short hours ago, but a round shadow has crept over it from the left limb. Now it looks like a slender crescent, the darker regions still faintly visible in reddish outline against the starry sky. The high winds that sweep the clouds along blow more sedately down at ground level, and make the evening pleasantly cool for those who have come out to enjoy the eclipse.
Tian-shin has come more prepared than most for this event. She has spread a large blanket out near the pond, and set up a small portable kneeling table at its center. On the table she has place a large silver thermos, half a dozen tea cups, a bowl of clementines, and a round white plate of small glazed cakes imprinted with Chinese seal text. The young woman sits cross-legged beside the table, trying to ignite a stick of cinnamon incense with a recalcitrant lighter. She wears a festive red blouse with a mandarin collar and diagonal closure fasted with black knotwork buttons, loose black pants, and red slippers with black bat motifs. Her long hair, twisted up in a bun, is held in place by a black lacquered hair stick with a white jade rabbit charm at one end.
Between the clouds overhead and the shadowed moon, it is hard to distinguish the company incoming from above until they get fairly close on their descent. Visually, at least. The hum of Sugar's wings can be /heard/ from a short distance off, the enormous dragonfly gliding down low to alight not far away from Tian-shin's blanket. In her saddle, Jax is dressed more warmly than is really necessary on the ground; tall black and silver boots, dark skinny jeans tucked into them, a silver jacket worn over a long-sleeved purple and black striped knit shirt, large wraparound dark glasses. His fingers scuff through his very (very!) tousled hair, rearranging it to a state of -- only /pretty/ tousled as he hops down, rubs the huge dragonfly under her chin. He digs into his messenger bag for a large scrap of jerky, offering it to her first before heading over towards Tian-shin.
"Oh, wow. S'all done up pretty an' everything." He stoops to kneel beside the table, reaching out to touch the stick of incense with one fingertip. It takes a moment, but after a few beats his finger does what the lighter failed to, the incense stick beginning to glow and smoulder. "I shoulda dressed prettier."
Matt is a little slower to climb down from Sugar's massive thorax, and looks just a touch shaky on his feet when he does. The smile on his face is broad and bright all the same, though, as he pads over to the blanket. He wears a yellow scarf with black stripes, green windbreaker with gray trim, faded blue jeans fraying at the cuffs, and well-worn brown hiking boots. "Hi! Thank you so much for the invitation." He bobs his head at Tian-shin, then bumps Jax's shoulder with his own. "I think you look great, but my idea of dressing up for an eclipse party..." With a sheepish smile, he unzips his jacket to reveal an Elphaba-green t-shirt with the silhouette of a broom-riding witch passing before a full moon, captioned with 'Yes, I can drive stick.' "Ooh, is that tea?" His eyes fix on the thermos eagerly.
Tian-shin only looks very briefly alarmed at the new arrivals, little though she can see of them at first. She seems to have forgotten about the incense in her hand until Jax reaches for it, but she breaks into a smile when he lights it for her. "Oh! Thank you." She rolls onto her knees and gives a slight bow. "You're welcome, and thank you both for showing up! My brother is around..." She squints into the darkness, shaking her head. ".../somewhere/, but other than us you're the first here. Help yourselves to the snacks, please--the moon cakes are vegan, I checked." She unscrews the top from the thermos and holds it out to Matt. "Three Treasures oolong from the Wuyi mountains."
"I don't know, I could totally look -- moonier? Oh! Oh, cakes!" Jax bounces up higher onto his knees, a brief shimmer of silvery light glowing around him. "An' tea yay. I think Matt needs some he ain't used t'travel-by-dragonfly yet an' Sugar's a little -- zoomy. Not that he /needs/ no excuse." He reaches forward, plucking up one of the cakes happily. "Shane an' Dai s'gonna try an' make it out later but Shane's kinda. Swamped on work."
"You're kind of moony on demand," Matt says, passing his hand through the short-lived silver halo around Jax. He accepts the thermos and wafts some of the visible steam into his face. "I would *love* some, please! This smells delightful and warm, and it's a bit chilly up there, besides..." He glances back at Sugar. "...she is *kind* of zoomy, which is excellent! It sure does get the blood pumping, though!" He also picks up a moon cake to nibble.
Tian-shin sets out three cups and, taking the thermos back, pours tea for all of them. "They're not cakes in the Western sense," she warns, ducking her head apologetically. "More adzuki bean and lotus seed paste with rice syrup wrapped in a glazed pastry shell. Sweet, but not as sweet as most cakes here." She caps the thermos and picks up an orange for herself, peeling it in a neat, continuous spiral without even looking at it. "Shane works a /lot/! I hope he can catch enough of a break to make it. I heard it's the brightest lunar eclipse in decades--and on Mid-Autumn Festival, no less!"
"Oh! Oh I kinda /am/, ain't I?" Jax brightens at this -- fairly literally, the faint silver shimmer returning in a halo around him. He sheds his jacket, folding it neatly and setting it on the blanket behind him. His clothing ripples and changes, black fabric taking on a glittering elaborate tracery of silvery frosting wrapped in curlicues all down his limbs. "He works harder'n half of everyone I know." Perhaps in some parents there would be pride in this statement; Jax just says it with a worried frown. "An' jus' /double/ since school's started, college has been like --" His head shakes quickly. He takes a bite of the cake, bouncing a little bit again as he peers up towards the sky. "Oh, these're nice -- why's it /mid/-Autumn festival, autumn's only jus' begun?"
Matt smiles and lifts his cup. "Thank you!" He blows gently at the tea, watching the partially occluded moon's reflection in its surface. The smile only grows wider at Jax's transformation. "Moon prism power," he mutters. "Shane plays as hard as he works, though." He takes a bite of his moon cake and chases it with a sip of tea, eyes closing appreciatively. "So good!"
Tian-shin pulls another bowl out from under the table and deposits the orange peel in it. "I'm glad you like! I love cooking but I just wouldn't have the patience for making these." She separates the segments of the orange one at a time, methodically. Her fine black brows wrinkle, considering. "You know, I'm really not sure?" She shrugs. "The ancient Chinese conceptualized seasons a little differently from how we do now, I think. Like the word for autumn equinox is 'chio fen', which literally means 'autumn division'."
"Even in English the summer solstice is called Midsummer a lot, too. I wonder if it comes from somethin' similar." Jax nibbles at his moon cake, glow still shimmering around him as he leans in against Matt's side. He picks up his tea cup, head tipped back to still look up towards the sky. "... how things been lately, s'important t'remember how t'keep playin'. This -- this is nice."
"Funny story, just last week one of my students asked why Summer Solstice was referred to as Midsummer in The Old Days--their words." Matt drapes an arm around Jax's shoulders. "Which...I don't know if I had a *particularly* good answer, except that, yeah, different cultures have different ideas about seasons. Maybe there was a practical reason for agrarian societies to center their seasons on solstices and equinoxes. I told them I'd read up on it and get back to them." He grins and sips his head. "It's been a *month* here." Then, to Jax, "A month and then some in the rest of your life, too. This *is* nice, though. The invite says it's traditional to tell stories?"
"Play..." Tian-shin looks down at the deconstructed orange in her hands, then looks up at the moon. "I'm not sure I even know how to do that anymore. I haven't updated my blog in weeks, and I really, really ought to write about that papal mass at St. Martin's." She also sips her tea, silent for a moment in her enjoyment. "Round foods, companionship, moon-gazing, and stories, yep. I figured we'd start that when more people are here, but if either of you feel like spinning a yarn, you are welcome to get the ball rolling."
"Obviously you gotta hang out with Shane more," Jax suggests with a quiet laugh that brightens the glow around him, silver-white sparkles dancing outward to envelop Matt briefly, too. "Though I s'pose it depends what /kinda/ play, 'round him you're as like t'end up in a bloody knock-down /fight/ as y'are out on a hike or at the theatre."
He closes his eyes, nestling into Matt's side as he sips at his tea. "Stories? Oh --" His cheeks flush, deep and dark that leaks a few stray wisps of crimson into the glow around him. "-- Gosh, I didn't come prepared with no -- is this like fairy-tale stories or our-life stories or ghost-stories or -- or -- or -- do we got a theme?"
"I don't know if I'd go so far as to say *that.*" Though Matt is laughing, too, turning his hand (and the teacup in it) beneath the dance of sparkles. "*I* haven't gotten into many bloody brawls while hanging out with Shane, it's really not my thing. But yeah, a part of the fun *is* not know what kind of fun you might get into. And that..." He lifts his cup as if to salute the eclipsing moon. "...is also the fun of stories!"
"I do like a good fight," Tian-shin muses mildly. "Haven't been doing as much of that since I started working here, come to think of it--partly a matter of adjusting to a new schedule, probably." Her eyes track Jax's earthbound moonlight appreciatively. "Tag's been working really hard on doing stuff like that. Not the same way you do, but.../coloring/ the air in a glittery way, I guess? Not easy going." She finally does eat one of the orange wedges spread out flower-like in her hand, and looks at the sky thoughtfully while she chews. "There's no /requirement/, I'm not putting anyone on the spot. There are some traditional stories people usually tell, legends about the moon, but even those aren't /mandatory/. Usually Mid-Autumn stories tend to be supernatural--myths and legends, so fairy tales would fit. But..." She smiles, looks down at her tea. "...well, I don't think it would go against the spirit of the holiday if you had other stories in mind.”
"Havin' a surface t'focus pigment /on/ is -- a fair sight easier, I'd figure." Jax polishes off his cake. Takes another long drink from his cup, then leans forward to set it down. "Alright. Stories." The light around him shimmers again, and fades away, though the silvered frosting remains on his clothing, and a very faint pearlescence lingers subtly on his skin.
He sits up a little straighter, reaching one hand up into the sky. His fingers pinch together, his hand tugging downward. Straining downward, pulling -- pulling --
Overhead, the half-eclipsed moon is pulling back /out/ of its shadow. Growing brighter. And brighter, and brighter, and larger, drawing down closer and closer until with a wobble and a shake it seems to /dislodge/ from the sky and sit, neatly, in Jax's cupped palm, now around the size of a coconut. The glow it casts onto their little picnic is bright. "The moon protects the nighttime, y'know. Helps keep folk safe in it. An' a good thing, too, because once -- long ago -- she done got drowned, an' /those/ times, well." He passes his other hand over top of the small moon in his hand, neatly drawing a veil of shadows back over to extinguish the light. There are faint and indistinct silhouettes creeping in towards the edges of their blanket -- half-formed shadow-creatures with many claws and many teeth, shifting and changing shapes before melting back into the dark. "Left all /manner/ of evil things walkin' the world in those days."