The Full Snow Moon was bright, then blood red, the last Total Lunar Eclipse until 2012. There are many names for February’s Moon: Sleet Moon, Goose Moon, Coyote Moon. I even found a reference from the Sioux, Raccoon Moon. I thought of our resident raccoon. I bundled wool over exposed skin, stood outside in no wind, -6 degrees of chilled air, watched the shadow of Earth fall between us and the Moon.
We could only stand to be outside for 5 or 10 minutes. Then we would quickly roll inside, warm up frost-fried fingers, fumble with camera buttons to see if we got a good shot. Blurred, no tripod. Back outside again. Even near a large city, it was silent, clear, you could see a spattering of stars through crimped branches of oak and elm.
The Eastern Cherokee call February the Bone Moon. Food grows thin, sometimes runs out. The Ancients gnawed on bones, made soup in steaming black pots over wooden tripods on fire. The white Bone moon disappeared, slowly eaten by Earth’s shadowy darkness. And in its place, indirect sunlight that still managed to bounce off the moon, turned into red, blues filtered, sucked out by the Earth’s atmosphere. The red moon is warm. We stood staring, not wanting to talk.
February is a lean month. I am restless, can’t stand to be in the house. I have moved to a coffee shop close by. I’m staring out at what is left of Winter’s dress – dirty brown snow. Cars fly past on their way to Rainbow Foods. There are only three of us left inside. I slow-drink a latte (skim), set Natalie’s book out on the table next to my headphones, cell phone, a black caribou jumping through a turquoise hoop. Is it a Snow Moon caribou? Or have we crossed a line into March.
I fattened up over Winter. I can feel a lumbering, I like the word lumbering, in my Soul. And my body aches to run, screaming through the wilderness. I guess that’s what I loved about freezing my butt off, staring up at the Snow Moon. The wildness of it all. I heard the dogs bark down the street. I wanted to scream. I don’t think I said anything to Liz, but they were barking through the whole 3 hours of the eclipse.
I wonder what the Ancients thought, standing around, coyotes circling, staring at the moon disappear behind invisible shadows. How did they make sense of it? A god, a goddess, another force to be reckoned with.
I have not seen the raccoon paws again. But water was dripping off the shingles when I left the house. Puddles splash across the sidewalk, rubber treads throw themselves into muddy thaw. I passed a stone office building located in the middle of a bog. There it is, all alone, in the middle of a swamp. It was empty for a long time, finally bought by a company with a wave logo and hydraulics in the name.
I told Liz I wish that was my studio, a building floating in the middle of a cattail bog, floating on a swamp. But why do people build in Nature’s drainage system, the places she uses to purify her water? I swear, if there were not zoning laws, state and national parks, every single square inch of space would be covered in concrete, tar, brick and mortar. There would be no Snow Moon to stare up at on a February winter night. Yeah, we tried to take over the Moon, too. But there was no air, no water, no food.
Man, so limited in his ability to adapt to physical hardship, fights the elements, refuses to honor the past. I’ve gone off on a tangent now. I guess there is something to be said for a good rant once in a while. I could tell by my writing practice this morning that I was edgy and unforgiving. Mostly of myself. I come here to stare out the window, guilt-free, to work on my projects without flinching or running over to add water to the cat dish.
I remember Natalie saying, “You’ve got to get out of the house. It’s too distracting.” I guess if a home was big enough, you could create enough space, your own wing, off from the rest of the family. But I am so used to sharing space that isn’t really there. It appears and reappears, Poof!, out of thin air.
Like the eclipsed, disappearing Moon. Only to surface hours later, no worse for wear, revealing a few more of her secrets, in coded shades of red. Nature’s secrets, they keep the dark mysteries alive. And in the morning, more Sun.
-posted on red Ravine, Monday, February 25th, 2008