View From the Garden: Once Upon a Full Moon…

Recently my husband and I went on a full moon hike at the South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton, and the moon was awe-inspiring. A low, ghostly mist hung just above the ponds and seemed to rise and move toward us, even as we walked the whole perimeter of the meadow. The trees in dark shadows lurked. The moon cast moon shadows. One of my favorite things of all occurred when we stopped at one of the ponds just at the edge, and the shimmering moon was snuggled next to the mist.

This moon is called the harvest moon because corn could be harvested by Native Americans, who named the full moons. European settlers adopted these names with a few additions to their meanings.

It seems that full moons have been named by different peoples throughout history, but the following names and meanings are from the eastern, predominantly, Algonquin tribes.

October Hunter’s Moon: Deer and other game animals can be more easily seen as the leaves fall.

November Beaver Moon, also Frosty Moon: Beavers are actively preparing for winter and were hunted at this time before they settled into their winter quarters. I think that before refrigerators and heated houses, people also prepared for winter at this time.

December Cold Moon or Moon before Yule or Long Night Moon: All of these names being appropriate for December.

January Wolf Moon, Old Moon or Moon after Yule. Hungry wolves howled outside Indian and Settlers villages. Though we have no wolves outside these villages, on a full moon in January, the imagination is piqued.

February Snow Moon: Usually the month of heaviest snow making hunting very difficult; hence the other name…Hunger Moon.

March Worm Moon: The earth begins warming, earth worms come to the surface of the ground and returning robins eat them!

Crow Moon: Native Americans thought the cawing of crows at this time signaled the end of winter

Crust Moon: The snow becomes crusted from freezing, melting by day and freezing at night. How I love to crunch through that!

Sap Moon: The time to tap maple trees for sap.

April Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon or Fish Moon: Wild phlox is one of the earliest flowers to bloom and grass is, indeed, sprouting. Shad are getting ready to spawn

May Flower Moon, Corn Planting Moon or Milk Moon.

June Strawberry Moon: Strawberry picking time.

Rose Moon: So called by the European Settlers.

July Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Hay Moon: Antlers of buck deer push out from their foreheads now.

August Sturgeon Moon: Sturgeon, where available, are most readily caught at this time.

Corn Moon or Grain Moon

Red Moon: The moon often looks red through a sultry haze on those hot summer nights.

The moon phases are probably less important to us than to people in the past, as they planted and hunted by them. But I find them beautiful and fascinating.

I had two wonderful “nature” experiences this week. The praying mantis is one of my favorite insects in spite of its badly behaved mating process. I love its size, shape and the way it moves. They blend so well in the foliage that when I spot one, it’s a wonderful surprise. I saw a large female on one property and two smaller males on another. I warned the males of what was in store for them and encouraged them to “live it up” while they can because, once they begin to feel amorous, it’s all over!

I found a box turtle hiding under some Nepta that I was pruning. It was completely inside the shell. It must have heard my pruning shears coming close. When I picked it up, the head and legs came out and the legs began to squirm. They were orange! Also the orange spots on the back seemed more intense than usual.

On the sad side, I found a dead baby mouse on a driveway. It was a field mouse, those who would rather live outside than in our houses. I gave it a good burial.

Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener, landscaper and consultant. For gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067.

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