For all its lambent lustre and pearly radiance, January's moon is one of deep cold, snow and hunger in wild places. Not long ago, we perched right here and photographed waves of departing geese against a rising autumn moon, and here we were again this weekend. The great birds were long gone of course, but their parting songs were a faint echo on the wind.
January's lunar orb is the coldest moon of the calendar year. We stoke fireplaces and wood stoves and huddle by our hearths on long winter nights, brew endless pots of tea and countless cauldrons of soup, count sticks of firewood and kindling. We wrap ourselves up and take toboggan loads of nosh into the forest for the hungry and ever hopeful birds, the deer. On wild jaunts, we look about for the first signs that daylight hours are stretching out again, measure the incline, intensity and sharpness of the deep blue shadows falling across our trail as we crunch along. The north wind holds dominion over our native hills, and it cuts like a knife. During the last winter Olympics, an ad supporting the Canadian team proclaimed: "We are Winter” (“Nous sommes l'hiver”), and truer words were never spoken. Winter is something we do up here, and we do it very, very well.
On clear winter nights, timber wolves in Lanark raise their voices in song, and coyote clans on the other side of the Two Hundred Wood sing a magnificent harmony, the two choruses performing a descant that rises and falls in waves across the inky snow and travels for miles - it's almost Gregorian, a Kyrie eleison so gorgeous it gives us goosebumps and leaves us breathless every single time we hear it.
As we waited for Lady Moon to appear last evening, we remembered that in three or four weeks, 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 highlands. Of such small and hopeful notions, our winter days are made.
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 the Bear, Moon of the Child, Moon of Darkness, Moon of Flying Ants, Moon of Life at It's Height, Moon of Strong Cold, 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
Always an admirer of wolves, I like the name "Wolf Moon", but I am also fond of "Great Spirit Moon" and "Earth Renewal Moon".