Dance by the light of the moon. Which moon? September, the Harvest Moon, the Yellow Leaf Moon. But if you are Haida, near the cool waters of Alaska and British Columbia, it might be the Ice Moon. For the Ojibwe, the Rice Moon. Cherokee, the Black Butterfly Moon. Climate changes the way the moon clings to the sky.
No matter the temperature, September is a transitional month. Warm one day, cool the next. Nights start to dip. On the last day of September, our heat kicked on for the first time. We opened the windows to let the “burnt dust” smell flow out into the wind. Then bundled up on the couch. It’s sweatshirt season. The time to dress in layers is upon us.
The Harvest Moon always looks bigger to me. The full moon was dramatic, a red smear across the sky. You could barely make it out behind the mist off the lake. I start to go inside in the Fall. I am internal. It’s a good time to write. And rest. I would miss the seasons so, if I lived in a climate that did not shift with the turning Earth.
I once thought I wanted to study the stars. That was before I saw how much math was involved. The exacting part of the Heavens is fascinating. But the mystery is what holds me. Not knowing is more exciting than knowing. I still believe in Santa Claus. Fairies are alive and well with the Hobbits in the forest. Trolls and gnomes dot the darkness of Sleepy Hollow. I’ll take the mystery over the facts any day.
That doesn’t work in real life. You can drown in what you don’t know. There’s a fine balance between being informed and obsessed. But I remember writing practices on — What are your obsessions? Because they hold a lot of juice. What are my obsessions?
I watch the Moon, the Sun, the Stars. I want to know what makes the Earth tick. I’m obsessed with understanding love and forgiveness. The breakdowns, the shattered dreams, the loss of control, the forgetfulness of the last broken heart, the wild abandon that makes a person fall in love.
I am obsessed with wind and trees. A single burnt umber leaf against a cerulean sky (I like to say the word cerulean). I want to understand what makes a family tick, the ghostlike qualities of memories, how we come to love the people we love, why people stick, then fade into the sunset, or drop off entirely, the clean hatchet cleave. Sharp. Close. Far away. Serrated. Here. Gone. I’m obsessed with photography, mandalas, finding my way in spite of the erratic, misleading compass needle. Where is True North? I want to know where I fit in.
I’m obsessed with community, with the good work of everyday teaching, with the smell of wood smoke and the sound of the Downy woodpecker snapping away on a turning ash branch. Have you ever noticed the erratic way a woodpecker flies? They look like giant hummingbirds, darting, rising, falling, but always landing on their feet. Sideways, clinging to the side of a rough barked tree. I’m obsessed with what connects and what separates. And why humans can’t seem to grasp — there is no difference between the two.
The 9th Full Moon has passed. Farmers plow bulging fields by the light of the moon. Two years out of three, the Harvest Moon falls in September. Corn, rice, beans, and wild rice reach their full potential. Under the Maize Moon, where the deer paw the earth, why can’t we?
-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, October 9th, 2008