Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sensory Word of the Week

Photo by @mariemunthoni
After last week's sensory word of the week post featured incandescent, I was inspired to keep going with language that can describe celestial bodies. According to, a crescent is "a curved shape that is wider in the middle than at its ends, like the shape of the moon during its first and last quarters." Last weekend, the St. Louis area had some unseasonably nice weather that drew many of us outdoors in the evenings, and there were great views of a crescent moon, growing a bit bigger each night in the phases between the new moon and the first quarter.

Crescent comes from the Latin word crescere meaning "grow." While crescent is now commonly used to describe either waxing moons before the first quarter or waning moons after the third quarter, this wasn't always the case. notes that in the past the word was only used in reference to the waxing moons, as their illumination is growing each night, which reflects the Latin meaning. Waning moons are shrinking.  

Ever since the total eclipse on August 21, I've had a heightened awareness and curiosity about what is going on in the sky. So many people, myself included, were completely entranced by the phenomenon of the eclipse, much more than we could have anticipated.

Apparently an eclipse of this magnitude, visible from coast to coast in the US, had not been experienced for the past 99 years. Seeing the moon in front of the sun, creeping closer and closer over time, was such a unique sight to behold. The light got dimmer and dimmer, and then the serenity of totality seeped in. The glowing halo of fire around the sun was simply beautiful. I talked to several friends and family members about their eclipse experiences, and we all seemed to have something in common. For a short period of time in the middle of the day, we all tuned into our senses, stayed in the moment, and took notice of everything going on around us. Some people noticed the sounds—birds got quiet but crickets and locusts sang loudly as if it were the middle of the night. Some saw bats come out. Some noticed the temperature drop. As the moon slowly moved and revealed more and more of the sun, many noticed playful crescent-shaped shadows on the ground, as you can see in the photo at the top of this post. Others celebrated with festive treats like Krispy Kreme Eclipse Doughnuts. 

Photo by @ambremaddock

During the eclipse, everyone tuned into their senses and remained whole-heartedly in the moment. We did so because we knew that we were about to witness something special. The eclipse was a perfect exercise in mindfulness. What if we all tuned into our senses and noticed the world around us more often? What extraordinary things would we notice in the everyday moments?

As always, if you'd like to suggest a sensory word, please pass it along! You can reach me at

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