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Posts tagged “full moon

The Christmas Moon

The Christmas Moon
The Christmas Moon

The Christmas Moon

This is one of my stories of Christmas magic, a moment in time that really did happen one Christmas night several years ago.

I was driving home on a Christmas night, traveling along a dark two-lane road in a somewhat rural area that was familiar and fairly close to home. As dusk fell the light dusting of snow around me was tending to violet and the perfectly clear blue sky above me was also deepening to violet in the east. As I turned a bend in the road I met with surprise a big bright and creamy full moon perfectly placed above the uneven horizon line, a mix of pine trees and the reaching bare branches of deciduous trees, these nearly silhouetted against the sky. I smiled at the pure beauty of the scene as I drove along, vowing to remember the composition and carry its beauty with me, perhaps someday painting the scene.

As I followed the curves of the road the moon seemed to follow me on my right, a watchful presence as I drove through the deepening twilight. I had just driven my brother back to the nursing home where he was living while recovering from a traumatic brain injury, and then my mother who was living in personal care in the after effects of lung cancer and congestive heart failure. The two places were at least 50 miles apart and the journey took quite some time on both highways and back roads. I had cooked a Christmas dinner at my house, set everything aside to keep warm and gone to pick up each of them. We ate our dinner and I packed a few leftovers for each of them before getting them back in time for dinner medications. At each place I stopped for a while to help them in and to get resettled in their respective spaces and discuss their care with staff. Now I was on my way home to pack up the rest of the dinner, wash dishes and clean up my kitchen, there was very little traffic and the day had been beautiful, clear and sunny though cold and now, alone, I had some time to ponder.

Deep in thought about those two and about my own life since they’d suffered their illnesses, I considered our day then moved to other Christmases, other holidays, other family members, other homes. In my distraction I slowed down with the rises and falls and bends in the road in the growing darkness, still aware of that full moon following me out of the corner of my eye, illuminating the white line on my right, making it very easy to follow.

At one point a small valley opened out on my right, a flood plain along a stream, a familiar thing to one who walks the woods and valleys in Western Pennsylvania: a level area filled with young trees, scrub and brambles which had recently enough been the rich bottomland field of a farm, bordered by a narrow stream that flowed at the bottom of a rather steep tree-covered hill. These small valleys appeared on one side of the road then the other, and with a little traveling the valley would rise up into a hill that bordered the road while on the other side the hill would fall into a valley, up and down, the road, the landscape, the rhythm was comforting, like rocking slowly in a rocking chair.

As I passed this little valley I noticed movement among the trees, probably a deer as this was the time of day they moved about and that was the perfect area for them to be having an evening meal. Though I hadn’t been facing that direction and didn’t actually see anything directly the movement hadn’t seemed to be a deer, and more by intuition than actual fact it had seemed human to me. We recognize these things without realizing, that ancient part of our brain assembling patterns and instinctive knowledge before our slower logical brain can react, and making out of the pieces something we can recognize.

The fact that it might be a person was not a problem, really, the little valley was essentially someone’s back yard and it would not be unusual for them to be walking around there even on Christmas, and while I might wonder if the person was in danger or in need of some sort I would be most likely to allow them their privacy. But something about the figure had also seemed familiar, I had no idea why, probably that ancient brain reacting again, but I trust it when it does that. And even though I wanted to get back home and clean up my kitchen, I slowed down and pulled to the side of the road. If there was a possibility I tried to pursue these little ideals that arose, stopping to explore. At that time, with all the complications of my life, I rarely felt I had the time to spend chasing an illusion, but I didn’t question the need to explore this one.

I had passed the valley by that time so it was now behind me, but I backed up along the berm of the road to a spot where I could see into it.

That silent pale yellow moon, now nearly white, still shone on my right, risen slightly higher above the horizon than before, and shone directly into the little space lighting the snow cover to a pale silver violet and the tree trunks to varying shades of pale gray against the charcoal-shadowed hill in the background. Everything seemed still, but I detected movement flitting among the trees, thought I saw the glint of moonlight on hair, on an arm, a dress. I opened my car window and shut off my radio and then my car’s engine. If those were people moving down there, they should be crunching in the snow, but I heard no sound in the crisp, clear air.

But I felt such a strong presence. Quietly opening my door and standing up in the bits of snow and gravel at the edge of the grass along the road, I heard only far off sounds, a plane in the sky, a car traveling somewhere, a dog barking. The air was so clear I thought I’d hear sounds from miles away traveling quickly through the cold, windless darkness, leaving little virtual contrails as they moved through the infinity of a cold winter night, but nothing came up from the valley, neither from hooves nor feet.

And if, instead of being the author, I was reading this and didn’t know the story, I’d be yelling, “You idiot! Get back in the car!” No, this isn’t going to turn into a made-for-TV movie, I remained alone, you are safe to read on without fear. I am cautious and always aware, but didn’t feel in any way threatened, in fact I felt safe and welcome.

As I stood there, one hand on my open car door, I thought I recognized one of the figures out of the corner of my eye, and as it is with focusing on subjects in near darkness the figure disappeared when I looked directly at it. But I knew it was my mother, walking quickly and gracefully as she had done when young, laughing soundlessly over her shoulder before disappearing into the darkness. Then I saw one of my aunts, also laughing but in a conversation with someone else, typically a sour and sarcastic person but here, almost unrecognizable in her happiness. And as I stood there I saw other relatives, aunts and uncles, even ones I’d never known and only seen in photos, just a few seconds each, and all were happy and laughing and moving here and there, the little valley was full of these specters.

Then I realized that each of these were the people I’d been thinking about as I drove along. Had I manifested them? Was I hallucinating? I hadn’t even had a glass of wine yet, waiting until I was back home in my warm kitchen in my stocking feet and wearing an apron, washing my dishes and singing along with the radio as I almost wished I was right then.

But here they were in this magical little valley and what had made me slow my car, had drawn me out to experience it was the joy in the scene, they were all enjoying themselves, happy and laughing, something that had not always been so in real life; some of them, sadly, rarely so. Here they all were together in this little parallel universe.

I had been thinking so deeply about them all as I drove in that deepening twilight under the watchful eye of that full moon, remembering where I had memories of them or simply imagining those who I’d never met. When I create a scene for artwork or writing I visualize it pretty completely and even sometimes I get so lost in these necessary alternate realities that I feel the cold or hot or wind, I have the conversation, I see the light in a person’s eyes. In that manner of visualizing, in that dusky time of day when I feel the veil of reality thin and the closeness of those who aren’t with me along with that magical moon and its light among the trees, my thoughts for those brief seconds became real, and I saw them as I wanted them to be, or perhaps as they really were without the worries and weariness of everyday life, happy to be together, happy to be alive. I will never know which it was, but I would be comforted to know this was how they would all spend eternity.

. . . . . .

The Christmas Moon copyright ©2011 Bernadette E. Kazmarski. All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Not Quite Full, Not Quite Empty

moon in bare tree branches
moon in bare tree branches

Not Quite Full, Not Quite Empty

The not-quite-full Beaver Moon shines through the not-quite-empty wild black cherry branches on an early November night.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. 


Partly Cloudy

supermoon with clouds

 

supermoon with clouds

Partly Cloudy

I have so many photos of the full moon and the supermoon they all look the same, so I decided to try something a little different last night and catch a few clouds too. I see streaks of ambient color in the background because I shot this one pretty dark to get the detail in the moon, but not so dark that I lost the clouds. Almost okay.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


The Christmas Moon

photo of moon over hill
photo of moon over hill

The Christmas Moon

This is one of my stories of Christmas magic, a little interesting moment that really did happen one Christmas night a several years ago.

A few years ago I was driving home on a Christmas night, traveling along a dark two-lane road in a somewhat rural area that was familiar and fairly close to home. As dusk fell the light dusting of snow around me was tending to violet and the perfectly clear blue sky above me was also deepening to violet in the east. As I turned a bend in the road I met with surprise a big bright and creamy full moon perfectly placed above the uneven horizon line, a mix of pine trees and the reaching bare branches of deciduous trees, these nearly silhouetted against the sky. I smiled at the pure beauty of the scene as I drove along, vowing to remember the composition and carry its beauty with me.

As I followed the curves of the road the moon seemed to follow me on my right, a watchful presence as I drove through the deepening twilight. I had just driven my brother back to the nursing home where he was living while recovering from a traumatic brain injury, and then my mother who was living in personal care in the after effects of lung cancer and congestive heart failure. The two places were at least 50 miles apart and the journey took quite some time on both highways and back roads. I had cooked a Christmas dinner at my house, set everything aside to keep warm and gone to pick up each of them. We ate our dinner and I packed a few leftovers for each of them before getting them back in time for dinner medications. At each place I stopped for a while to help them in and to get resettled in their respective spaces and discuss their care with staff. Now I was on my way home to pack up the rest of the dinner, wash dishes and clean up my kitchen, there was very little traffic and the day had been beautiful, clear and sunny though cold and now, alone, I had some time to ponder.

Deep in thought about these two and about my own life since they’d suffered their illnesses, I considered our day then moved to other Christmases, other holidays, other family members, other homes. In my distraction I slowed down with the rises and falls and bends in the road in the growing darkness, still aware of that full moon following me out of the corner of my eye.

A small valley opened out on my right, a flood plain along a stream, a familiar thing to one who walks the woods and valleys in Western Pennsylvania: a level area filled with young trees, scrub and brambles which had recently enough been the rich bottomland field of a farm, bordered by a narrow stream, and behind that a rather steep tree-covered hill. These small valleys appeared on one side of the road then the other, and with a little traveling the valley would rise up into a hill that bordered the road while on the other side the hill would fall into a valley, up and down, the road, the landscape, the rhythm was comforting, like rocking slowly in a rocking chair.

As I passed this little valley I noticed movement among the trees, probably a deer as this was the time of day they moved about and that was the perfect area for them to be having an evening meal. Though I hadn’t been facing that direction and didn’t actually see anything directly the movement hadn’t seemed to be a deer, and more by intuition than actual fact it had seemed human to me. We recognize these things without realizing, that ancient part of our brain assembling patterns and instinctive knowledge before our slower logical brain can react, and making out of the pieces something we can recognize.

The fact that it might be a person was not a problem, really, the little valley was essentially someone’s back yard and it would not be unusual for them to be walking around there even on Christmas, and while I might wonder if the person was in danger or in need of some sort I would be most likely to allow them their privacy. But something about the figure had also seemed familiar, I had no idea why, probably that ancient brain reacting again, but I trust it when it does that. And even though I wanted to get back home and clean up my kitchen, I slowed down and pulled to the side of the road. If there was a possibility I tried to pursue these little ideals that arose, stopping to explore. At that time, with all the complications of my life, I rarely felt I had the time to spend chasing an illusion, but I didn’t question the need to explore this one.

I had passed the valley by that time so it was now behind me, but I backed up along the berm of the road to a spot where I could see into it.

That silent pale yellow moon, now nearly white, still shone on my right, risen slightly higher above the horizon than before, and shone directly into the little space lighting the snow cover to a pale silver violet and the tree trunks to varying shades of pale gray against the charcoal-shadowed hill in the background. Everything seemed still, but I detected movement flitting among the trees, thought I saw the glint of moonlight on hair, on an arm, a dress. I opened my car window and shut off my radio and then my car’s engine. If those were people moving down there, they should be crunching in the snow, but I heard no sound in the crisp, clear air.

But I felt such a strong presence. Quietly opening my door and standing up in the bits of snow and gravel at the edge of the grass along the road, I heard only far off sounds, a plane in the sky, a car traveling somewhere, a dog barking. The air was so clear I thought I’d hear sounds from miles away traveling quickly through the cold, windless darkness, leaving little virtual contrails as they moved through the infinity of a cold winter night, but nothing came up from the valley, neither from hooves nor feet.

And if, instead of being the author, I was reading this and didn’t know the story, I’d be yelling, “You idiot! Get back in the car!” No, this isn’t going to turn into a made-for-TV movie, I remained alone, you are safe to read on without fear. I am cautious and always aware, but didn’t feel in any way threatened, in fact I felt safe and welcome.

As I stood there, one hand on my open car door, I thought I recognized one of the figures out of the corner of my eye, and as it is with focusing on subjects in near darkness the figure disappeared when I looked directly at it. But I knew it was my mother, walking quickly and gracefully as she had done when young, laughing soundlessly over her shoulder before disappearing into the darkness. Then I saw one of my aunts, also laughing but in a conversation with someone else, typically a sour and sarcastic person but here, almost unrecognizable in her happiness. And as I stood there I saw other relatives, aunts and uncles, even ones I’d never known and only seen in photos, just a few seconds each, and all were happy and laughing and moving here and there, the little valley was full of these specters.

Then I realized that each of these were the people I’d been thinking about as I drove along. Had I manifested them? Was I hallucinating? I hadn’t even had a glass of wine yet, waiting until I was back home in my warm kitchen in my stocking feet and wearing an apron, washing my dishes and singing along with the radio as I almost wished I was right then.

But here they were in this magical little valley and what had made me slow my car, had drawn me out to experience it was the joy in the scene, they were all enjoying themselves, happy and laughing, something that had not always been so in real life; some of them, sadly, rarely so. Here they all were together in this little parallel universe.

I had been thinking so deeply about them all as I drove in that deepening twilight under the watchful eye of that full moon, remembering where I had memories of them or simply imagining those who I’d never met. When I create a scene for artwork or writing I visualize it pretty completely and even sometimes I get so lost in these necessary alternate realities that I feel the cold or hot or wind, I have the conversation, I see the light in a person’s eyes. In that manner of visualizing, in that dusky time of day when I feel the veil of reality thin and the closeness of those who aren’t with me along with that magical moon and its light among the trees, my thoughts for those brief seconds became real, and I saw them as I wanted them to be, or perhaps as they really were without the worries and weariness of everyday life, happy to be together, happy to be alive. I will never know which it was, but I would be comforted to know this was how they would all spend eternity.


Moon with Leaves

moon with leaves
moon with leaves

Moon with Leaves

This shot has some interesting colors in it, the leaves around the moon look as if they are gathered in a circle, and the leaves silhouetted by the moonlight appear to spell something…

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Moon with Branches

Moon with Branches
Moon with Branches

Moon with Branches

A few quick shots of tonight’s full moon. Since I have so many of just the moon already, I’m looking for shots that are just a little different. Here I photographed it through the near branches of a tree. A little later I photographed it through leaves…

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


The Christmas Moon

photo of moon over hill
photo of moon over hill

The Christmas Moon

This is one of my stories of Christmas magic, a little interesting moment that really did happen one Christmas night a several years ago.

A few years ago I was driving home on a Christmas night, traveling along a dark two-lane road in a somewhat rural area that was familiar and fairly close to home. As dusk fell the light dusting of snow around me was tending to violet and the perfectly clear blue sky above me was also deepening to violet in the east. As I turned a bend in the road I met with surprise a big bright and creamy full moon perfectly placed above the uneven horizon line, a mix of pine trees and the reaching bare branches of deciduous trees, these nearly silhouetted against the sky. I smiled at the pure beauty of the scene as I drove along, vowing to remember the composition and carry its beauty with me.

As I followed the curves of the road the moon seemed to follow me on my right, a watchful presence as I drove through the deepening twilight. I had just driven my brother back to the nursing home where he was living while recovering from a traumatic brain injury, and then my mother who was living in personal care in the after effects of lung cancer and congestive heart failure. The two places were at least 50 miles apart and the journey took quite some time on both highways and back roads. I had cooked a Christmas dinner at my house, set everything aside to keep warm and gone to pick up each of them. We ate our dinner and I packed a few leftovers for each of them before getting them back in time for dinner medications. At each place I stopped for a while to help them in and to get resettled in their respective spaces and discuss their care with staff. Now I was on my way home to pack up the rest of the dinner, wash dishes and clean up my kitchen, there was very little traffic and the day had been beautiful, clear and sunny though cold and now, alone, I had some time to ponder.

Deep in thought about these two and about my own life since they’d suffered their illnesses, I considered our day then moved to other Christmases, other holidays, other family members, other homes. In my distraction I slowed down with the rises and falls and bends in the road in the growing darkness, still aware of that full moon following me out of the corner of my eye.

A small valley opened out on my right, a flood plain along a stream, a familiar thing to one who walks the woods and valleys in Western Pennsylvania: a level area filled with young trees, scrub and brambles which had recently enough been the rich bottomland field of a farm, bordered by a narrow stream, and behind that a rather steep tree-covered hill. These small valleys appeared on one side of the road then the other, and with a little traveling the valley would rise up into a hill that bordered the road while on the other side the hill would fall into a valley, up and down, the road, the landscape, the rhythm was comforting, like rocking slowly in a rocking chair.

As I passed this little valley I noticed movement among the trees, probably a deer as this was the time of day they moved about and that was the perfect area for them to be having an evening meal. Though I hadn’t been facing that direction and didn’t actually see anything directly the movement hadn’t seemed to be a deer, and more by intuition than actual fact it had seemed human to me. We recognize these things without realizing, that ancient part of our brain assembling patterns and instinctive knowledge before our slower logical brain can react, and making out of the pieces something we can recognize.

The fact that it might be a person was not a problem, really, the little valley was essentially someone’s back yard and it would not be unusual for them to be walking around there even on Christmas, and while I might wonder if the person was in danger or in need of some sort I would be most likely to allow them their privacy. But something about the figure had also seemed familiar, I had no idea why, probably that ancient brain reacting again, but I trust it when it does that. And even though I wanted to get back home and clean up my kitchen, I slowed down and pulled to the side of the road. If there was a possibility I tried to pursue these little ideals that arose, stopping to explore. At that time, with all the complications of my life, I rarely felt I had the time to spend chasing an illusion, but I didn’t question the need to explore this one.

I had passed the valley by that time so it was now behind me, but I backed up along the berm of the road to a spot where I could see into it.

That silent pale yellow moon, now nearly white, still shone on my right, risen slightly higher above the horizon than before, and shone directly into the little space lighting the snow cover to a pale silver violet and the tree trunks to varying shades of pale gray against the charcoal-shadowed hill in the background. Everything seemed still, but I detected movement flitting among the trees, thought I saw the glint of moonlight on hair, on an arm, a dress. I opened my car window and shut off my radio and then my car’s engine. If those were people moving down there, they should be crunching in the snow, but I heard no sound in the crisp, clear air.

But I felt such a strong presence. Quietly opening my door and standing up in the bits of snow and gravel at the edge of the grass along the road, I heard only far off sounds, a plane in the sky, a car traveling somewhere, a dog barking. The air was so clear I thought I’d hear sounds from miles away traveling quickly through the cold, windless darkness, leaving little virtual contrails as they moved through the infinity of a cold winter night, but nothing came up from the valley, neither from hooves nor feet.

And if, instead of being the author, I was reading this and didn’t know the story, I’d be yelling, “You idiot! Get back in the car!” No, this isn’t going to turn into a made-for-TV movie, I remained alone, you are safe to read on without fear. I am cautious and always aware, but didn’t feel in any way threatened, in fact I felt safe and welcome.

As I stood there, one hand on my open car door, I thought I recognized one of the figures out of the corner of my eye, and as it is with focusing on subjects in near darkness the figure disappeared when I looked directly at it. But I knew it was my mother, walking quickly and gracefully as she had done when young, laughing soundlessly over her shoulder before disappearing into the darkness. Then I saw one of my aunts, also laughing but in a conversation with someone else, typically a sour and sarcastic person but here, almost unrecognizable in her happiness. And as I stood there I saw other relatives, aunts and uncles, even ones I’d never known and only seen in photos, just a few seconds each, and all were happy and laughing and moving here and there, the little valley was full of these specters.

Then I realized that each of these were the people I’d been thinking about as I drove along. Had I manifested them? Was I hallucinating? I hadn’t even had a glass of wine yet, waiting until I was back home in my warm kitchen in my stocking feet and wearing an apron, washing my dishes and singing along with the radio as I almost wished I was right then.

But here they were in this magical little valley and what had made me slow my car, had drawn me out to experience it was the joy in the scene, they were all enjoying themselves, happy and laughing, something that had not always been so in real life; some of them, sadly, rarely so. Here they all were together in this little parallel universe.

I had been thinking so deeply about them all as I drove in that deepening twilight under the watchful eye of that full moon, remembering where I had memories of them or simply imagining those who I’d never met. When I create a scene for artwork or writing I visualize it pretty completely and even sometimes I get so lost in these necessary alternate realities that I feel the cold or hot or wind, I have the conversation, I see the light in a person’s eyes. In that manner of visualizing, in that dusky time of day when I feel the veil of reality thin and the closeness of those who aren’t with me along with that magical moon and its light among the trees, my thoughts for those brief seconds became real, and I saw them as I wanted them to be, or perhaps as they really were without the worries and weariness of everyday life, happy to be together, happy to be alive. I will never know which it was, but I would be comforted to know this was how they would all spend eternity.


Lunaria

photo of lunaria
photo of lunaria

Lunaria

Lunaria for the full moon.

Honesty for its pure white color.

Money plant because we can all use a little extra now and then, and if we can grow it in the backyard, so much the better.

This plant has self-seeded since the first year I was here and planted some seeds in a flower bed. Now it comes up wherever it pleases and most of the time I let it because it’s so beautiful with spring’s pink or white phlox-like blossoms, and in the autumn when the seed pods dry and I peel them away to reveal the transparent pearly white membrane that once held the seeds apart in the pod.

At other times it really looks like an undesirable, its first-year floret of leaves resembling a thistle without the thorns, and in the time between blossom and seed looking like a struggling half-hybrid.

It is officially called Lunaria because of its color and shape resemblance to the moon, but every popular plant picks up familiar names.

So I have harvested this year’s money from the back yard and placed some for display and shared more this friends. That can’t be too bad either.


Shine On, Harvest Moon, 2011

harvest moon

Harvest Moon

I finally caught some color in the sky and a yellow moon. The Harvest Moon always looks extra golden, round and fat as if it, too, is ready for harvest.

Last year on this day we had a full moon on this day, but in 2012, the September full moon doesn’t fall until September 29.

September’s full moon is called the Full Corn Moon for the time of harvesting corn, and also the Full Barley Moon for the harvest and threshing of barley, and the Fruit Moon for the ripening of fruit in both hemispheres, autumn fruits in the northern hemisphere, and spring fruits in the southern hemisphere. While each month’s moon keeps its particular name, the Harvest Moon is an additional name for the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox. What characterizes this moon as the Harvest is that, unlike other times of the year, the moon rises an average of 30 minutes later each day rather than the usual 50 minutes. That gives this string of days, about two weeks, more light in the evening as the full moon approaches, arrives and departs, so work days for harvesting can be longer.

Read about the Corn Moon and the Harvest Moon on the Farmer’s Almanac.

 


Supermoon: 2011

photo of moon from march 19 2011

Supermoon

Here is the full moon from March 19, the “Supermoon”. It certainly did appear larger than most other moons I’ve photographed, though I didn’t have a way to show the scale so here it looks like any other moon.

Still, the full moon is a beautiful creature and I have always enjoyed studying her surface patterns. They’ve always looked like cities and roads, like what you see when you fly over the desert.

This full moon has been one of the most meaningful and exuberant in cultures throughout human history as evidenced by these full moon names from various traditions, regions and beliefs:

  • Pink Moon, named for the wild phlox or “pinks” which are often the earliest showy flowers to bloom in the woods and fields;
  • Sprouting Grass Moon, because grass will begin to sprout in most of the northern hemisphere except the most northern regions;
  • Egg Moon, I’ve never heard a clear explanation of this one, but it may be that chickens in unheated coops will produce more eggs as the days lengthen and grow warmer;
  • Fish Moon, fish begin migrating and spawning;
  • Worm Moon, worms begin moving as the soil thaws, leaving castings for the garden and attracting robins;
  • Crow Moon, crows begin to caw signaling the end of winter;
  • Crust Moon, snowcover melts during the day and freezes over at night;
  • Sap Moon, sap begins to flow in trees and shrubs, especially maple trees;
  • Lenten Moon, this full moon always falls during Lent, no matter when Easter falls;
  • Paschal Moon, only in some years, when the March full moon falls after the equinox marking both Easter and Passover—this year the April full moon will be the Paschal moon.

The Christmas Moon

harvest moon

Harvest Moon

This is my last story of Christmas magic, a little interesting moment that really did happen one Christmas night a few years ago. The moon above is not the actual moon, but the Harvest Moon from earlier this year; it simply resembles that moon. Now that I’ve written the story, I also intend to illustrate it.

A few years ago I was driving home on a Christmas night, traveling along a dark two-lane road in a somewhat rural area that was familiar and fairly close to home. As dusk fell the light dusting of snow around me was tending to violet and the perfectly clear blue sky above me was also deepening to violet in the east. As I turned a bend in the road I met with surprise a big bright and creamy full moon perfectly placed above the uneven horizon line, a mix of pine trees and the reaching bare branches of deciduous trees, these nearly silhouetted against the sky. I smiled at the pure beauty of the scene as I drove along, vowing to remember the composition and carry its beauty with me.

As I followed the curves of the road the moon seemed to follow me on my left, a watchful presence as I drove through the deepening twilight. I had just driven my brother back to the nursing home where he was living while recovering from a traumatic brain injury, and then my mother who was living in personal care in the after effects of lung cancer and congestive heart failure. The two places were at least 50 miles apart and the journey took quite some time on both highways and back roads. I had cooked a Christmas dinner at my house, set everything aside to keep warm and gone to pick up each of them. We ate our dinner and I packed a few leftovers for each of them before getting them back in time for dinner medications. At each place I stopped for a while to help them in and to get resettled in their respective spaces and discuss their care with staff. Now I was on my way home to pack up the rest of the dinner, wash dishes and clean up my kitchen, there was very little traffic and the day had been beautiful, clear and sunny though cold and now, alone, I had some time to ponder.

Deep in thought about these two and about my own life since they’d suffered their illnesses, I considered our day then moved to other Christmases, other holidays, other family members, other homes. In my distraction I slowed down with the rises and falls and bends in the road in the growing darkness, still aware of that full moon following me out of the corner of my eye.

A small valley opened out on my left, a familiar thing to one who walks the woods and valleys in Western Pennsylvania: a level area filled with young trees, scrub and brambles which had recently enough been the rich bottomland field of a farm, bordered by a narrow stream, and behind that a rather steep tree-covered hill. These small valleys appeared on both sides of the road, and with a little traveling the valley would rise up into a hill that bordered the road, up and down, the road, the landscape, the rhythm was comforting, like rocking slowly in a rocking chair.

As I passed this little valley I noticed movement among the trees, probably a deer as this was the time of day they moved about and that was the perfect area for them to be having an evening meal. Though I hadn’t been facing that direction and didn’t actually see anything directly the movement hadn’t seemed to be a deer, and more by intuition than actual fact it had seemed human to me. We recognize these things without realizing, that ancient part of our brain assembling patterns and instinctive knowledge before our slower logical brain can react.

The fact that it may be a person was not a problem, really, the little valley was essentially someone’s back yard and it would not be unusual for them to be walking around there even on Christmas and while I might wonder if the person was in danger or in need of some sort I would be most likely to allow them their privacy. But something about the figure had also seemed familiar, I had no idea why, probably that ancient brain reacting again, but I trust it when it does that. And even though I wanted to get back home and clean up my kitchen, I slowed down and pulled to the side of the road. If there was a possibility I tried to pursue these little ideals that arose, stopping to explore, but at that time I rarely felt I had the time to spend chasing an illusion.

I had passed the valley by that time so it was now behind me, but I backed up along the berm of the road to a spot where I could see into the valley.

That silent pale yellow moon, now nearly white, still shone on my left, risen slightly higher above the horizon than before, and shone directly into the little space lighting the snow cover to a pale silver violet and the tree trunks to varying shades of pale gray against the charcoal-shadowed hill in the background. Everything seemed still, but I detected movement flitting among the trees, thought I saw the glint of moonlight on hair, on an arm, a dress. I opened my car window and shut off my radio and then my car’s engine. If those were people moving down there, they should be crunching in the snow, but I heard no sound in the crisp, clear air.

But I felt such a strong presence. Quietly opening my door and standing up in the bits of snow and gravel at the edge of the grass along the road, I heard only far off sounds, a plane in the sky, a car traveling somewhere, a dog barking. The air was so clear I thought I’d hear sounds from miles away traveling quickly through the cold, windless darkness, leaving little virtual contrails as they moved through the infinity of a cold winter night, but nothing came up from the valley, neither from hooves nor feet.

And if, instead of being the author, I was reading this and didn’t know the story, I’d be yelling, “You idiot! Get back in the car!” No, this isn’t going to turn into a made-for-TV movie—you are safe to read on without fear. I am cautious and always aware, but didn’t feel in any way threatened, in fact I felt safe and welcome.

As I stood there, one hand on my open car door, I thought I recognized one of the figures out of the corner of my eye, and as it is with focusing on subjects in near darkness the figure disappeared when I looked directly at it. But I knew it was my mother, walking quickly and gracefully as she had done when young, laughing soundlessly over her shoulder before disappearing into the darkness. Then I saw one of my aunts, also laughing but in a conversation with someone else, typically a sour and sarcastic person but here, happy for once in her life. And as I stood there I saw other relatives, my brother and sister, aunts and uncles, even ones I’d never known and only seen in photos, just a few seconds each, and all were happy and laughing and moving here and there, the little valley was full of these specters.

Then I realized that each of these were the people I’d been thinking about as I drove along. Had I manifested them? Was I hallucinating? I hadn’t even had a glass of wine yet, waiting until I was back home in my warm kitchen in my stocking feet and wearing an apron, washing my dishes and singing along with the radio as I almost wished I was right then.

But here they were in this magical little valley and what had made me slow my car, had drawn me out to experience it was the joy in the scene, they were all enjoying themselves, happy and laughing, something that had not always been so in real life. Here they all were together in this little parallel universe.

No, I had been thinking so deeply about them all, remembering where I had memories of them or simply imagining those who I’d never met. And when I create a scene for artwork or writing I visualize it pretty completely and for a while as the goal of my work it must have every element of reality to me to the point of physicality or I can’t finish, and even sometimes I get so lost in these necessary alternate realities that I feel the cold or hot or wind, I have the conversation, I see the light in a person’s eyes. In that manner of visualizing, in that dusky time of day when I feel the veil of reality thin and the closeness of those who aren’t with me along with that magical moon and its light among the trees, my thoughts for those brief seconds became real, and I saw them as I wanted them to be, or perhaps as they really were without the worries and weariness of everyday life, happy to be together.


Shine On, Harvest Moon

harvest moon

Harvest Moon

I finally caught some color in the sky and a yellow moon. The Harvest Moon always looks extra golden, round and fat as if it, too, is ready for harvest.


Supermoon

photo of moon from march 19 2011

Supermoon

Here is the full moon from March 19, the “Supermoon”. It certainly did appear larger than most other moons I’ve photographed, though I didn’t have a way to show the scale so here it looks like any other moon.

Still, the full moon is a beautiful creature and I have always enjoyed studying her surface patterns. They’ve always looked like cities and roads, like what you see when you fly over the desert.

This full moon has been one of the most meaningful and exuberant in cultures throughout human history as evidenced by these full moon names from various traditions, regions and beliefs:

  • Pink Moon, named for the wild phlox or “pinks” which are often the earliest showy flowers to bloom in the woods and fields;
  • Sprouting Grass Moon, because grass will begin to sprout in most of the northern hemisphere except the most northern regions;
  • Egg Moon, I’ve never heard a clear explanation of this one, but it may be that chickens in unheated coops will produce more eggs as the days lengthen and grow warmer;
  • Fish Moon, fish begin migrating and spawning;
  • Worm Moon, worms begin moving as the soil thaws, leaving castings for the garden and attracting robins;
  • Crow Moon, crows begin to caw signaling the end of winter;
  • Crust Moon, snowcover melts during the day and freezes over at night;
  • Sap Moon, sap begins to flow in trees and shrubs, especially maple trees;
  • Lenten Moon, this full moon always falls during Lent, no matter when Easter falls;
  • Paschal Moon, only in some years, when the March full moon falls after the equinox marking both Easter and Passover—this year the April full moon will be the Paschal moon.