January's moon coming up over the hills is a thing of beauty, but the beauty is a chill one that sings of deep cold, snow and hunger in the wilds. Not so long ago, I stood here and photographed waves of departing geese silhouetted against the rising moon, and here I stood again last night. The great birds were long gone of course, but their parting songs remained with me as a faint echo on the wind.
We stoke up fireplaces and wood stoves and stay by our hearths during the long nights, brewing endless pots of tea and countless cauldrons of soup, counting sticks of firewood and kindling, quart sealers lined up in our pantries, bags of frozen harvest in the freezer. We wrap up warmly and take toboggan loads of food out into the forest for the hungry and ever hopeful birds and deer. We look for the first signs that daylight hours are stretching out again, measuring the length, angle, intensity and sharpness of the long blue shadows falling across our trail into the woods. A recent ad campaign in support of the Canadian team traveling to the Sochi Olympics proclaims: "We are Winter” (“Nous sommes l'hiver”), and truer words were never spoken. Winter is something we do here, and we do it very, very well.
On winter nights, our eastern timber wolves raise their voices in song, and the coyotes on the other side of the Two Hundred Wood sing a magnificent harmony back, the two wild and elemental choruses forming a descant that rises and falls in waves across the snow - it's a Kyrie eleison so gorgeous that it gives me goosebumps and leaves me breathless every single time.
As I waited for Lady Moon to appear last evening, I remembered that in several weeks, the Great Horned Owls will be nesting in our woods again, and a few weeks after that, the maple syrup season will (hopefully) be starting in the Lanark Highlands.
We also know this January moon as the: After Yule Moon, Big Cold Moon, Buckeyes Ripe Moon, Carnation Moon, Center Moon, Ceremonial Initiate Moon, Cold Moon, Cooking Moon, Turning Moon, Earth Renewal Moon, First Moon, Frost in the Tepee Moon, Frozen Ground Moon, Great Moon, Great Spirit Moon, Greetings Maker Moon, Her Cold Moon, Hibiscus Moon, Holiday Moon, Ice Moon, Lakes Frozen Moon, Little Winter Moon, Long Moon, Man Moon, Midwinter Moon, Moon After Yule, Moon of Darkness, Moon of Flying Ants, Moon of Life at It's Height, Moon of Strong Cold, Moon of the Bear, Moon of the Child, Moon of Whirling Snow, Moon When Animals Lose Their Fat, Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken by Snow, Moon When Snow Drifts into Tipis, Moon When the Snow Blows like Spirits in the Wind, Moon When the Sun Has Traveled South, Moon When the Old Fellow Spreads the Brush , Moon When Wolves Run Together, Ninene Moon, No Snow in Trails Moon, Old Moon, Pine Moon, Plum Blossom Moon, Quiet Moon, Rivros Moon, Rowan Moon, Severe Moon, Snow Moon, Snow Thaws Moon, Snowdrop Moon, Snowy Path Moon, Strong Cold Moon, Sun Has Not Strength to Thaw Moon, Thumb Moon, Trail Squint Moon, Two Trails Moon, Weight Loss Moon, Whirling Wind Moon, White Waking Moon, Winter Moon, Winter's Younger Brother Moon, Wolf Moon
Ever an admirer of wolves, I like the name "Wolf Moon", but I am also fond of "Great Spirit Moon" and "Earth Renewal Moon".