Usually the second moon of the calendar year, February's full lunar orb is an icy one, framed by the vague shapes of snowy evergreens and attended by faint faraway stars. Capturing this moon is an uncomfortable business, but as cold as it was here last night, Spencer and I went out and stood in the snow as we always do. It is our way of "saying yes to the world", to the innate wildness of life in the Great Round of time, to grandeur in the starry, starry night over our heads.
For me, this month's lunar cycle is about owls. In February, the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), claims a nest somewhere in the woods with its lifelong mate and settles down to the arduous business of raising another unruly brood. The great "hornies" are among my favorite birds, and it's enchanting to hear a couple calling companionably to each other across the snowy woods in winter. Quintessentially northern residents, the great owls thrive here, and the further one journeys toward the Arctic, the bigger these splendid birds grow. The Saw-whet Owl or sugar bird (Aegolius acadicus) is not far behind in its own courtship rituals, and neither are the other owls of the Lanark highlands. There is love and fertility in the air, among northern owls anyway. The rest of us are just trying to stay warm.
Life can be stressful for those of us who lack feathers and dine not on mice and voles. The Wolf Moon was last month, but wolves and coyotes howl at the gates in February, and hunger is a beast well known in wild snowbound places. If we can just manage to hang on for a few weeks longer, there are better times ahead. March promises relief and sweetness; the splendid sylvan alchemy of the maple syrup season will be in full swing when the next full moon makes its appearance.
We also know this moon as the: Ash Moon, Big Winter Moon, Bone Moon, Bony Moon, Budding Moon, Chestnuts Moon, Cold Winds Moon, Coyotes Frighten Moon, Crow Moon, Dark Red Calves Moon, Death Moon, Eagle Moon, Fish Running Moon, Frost Sparkling in the Sun Moon, Gray Moon, Horning Moon, HUnger Moon, Ice in River Is Gone Moon, Ice Moon, Index Finger Moon, Little Bud Moon, Long Dry Moon, Makes Branches Fall in Pieces Moon, Mimosa Moon, Moon of Ice, Moon of Purification and Renewal, Moon of Rabbit Conception, Moon of the Cedar Dust Wind, Moon of the Raccoon, Moon of the Frog, Moon When Geese Come Home, Moon When Bear Cubs are Born, Moon When Spruce Tips Fall, Moon When Trees Pop, Moon When Trees Are Bare and Vegetation Is Scarce, Narcissus Moon, No Snow in Trails Moon, Owl Moon, Peach Blossom Moon, Pink Moon, Plum Blossom Moon, Primrose Moon, Quickening Moon, Raccoon Moon, Rain and Dancing Moon , Red and Cleansing Moon, Second Moon, Snow Crust Moon, Snow Moon, Solmonath (Sun Moon), Squint Rock Moon, Staying Home Moon, Storing Moon, Storm Moon, Sucker Fish Moon, Sucker Moon, Trapper’s Moon, Treacherous Moon, Violet Moon, Wexes Moon, Wild Moon, Wind Moon, Wind Tossed Moon, Winter Moon
Among the many names for this month's moon, I am rather fond of Quickening Moon and Wild Moon, but first and foremost, Owl Moon.