Saturday, February 19, 2011

February's Hunger Moon

Across the velvet bowl of night,
we hunt the rising moon,

with brushes and lenses we go,

longing to catch her radiant face

in the net of dreaming trees.

The Moonhunters (excerpt)

C. Kerr, February 2009

On clear winter nights, the stars are so bright and close one can almost reach up and touch them. Usually the second moon of the calendar year, February's full orb is a cold and perfect beauty up there in the inky night attended by guardian stars and delicate feathery snow clouds. Photographing this moon is a cold business indeed, so what am I doing outside with camera and tripod after dark?

Around this time, the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), having taken a mate a few weeks earlier, crafts a nest and settles down to the happy business of raising an unruly brood. The great hornies are among my favorite birds, and I adore their soft songs - it's always a lovely thing to hear a couple calling companionably to each other across the snowy woods in winter's (hopefully) closing pages. Quintessential northern residents, the great owls love living here and they thrive on the tough climate - the further north one travels, the bigger they grow. The Saw-whet Owl (or sugar bird) will not be far behind the hornies in courtship rituals, and nor will the other owls of the Lanark highlands. Strange as it may seem, springtime is already on its way. Love and fertility are in the air, among the owls anyway.

Life is a little more stressful for those of us who lack feathers and fur and do not dine on mice and voles. The Wolf Moon was last month, but the wolves continue to howl at village gates, and hunger is a beast well known as the days grow longer and winter (hopefully) draws to a close. We count the sticks of firewood in our woodsheds, vegetables in the bins and the jars in our larders, and we hope we can hang on for a while longer. If we can manage to hang on, the full moon of March promises relief and sweetness too, for the splendid wild alchemy of the maple syrup season will be in full swing when the next full moon makes its appearance.

For a fine trove of moon lore and thoughtful observations about the ways in which humanity have traditionally hunted, gathered, cooked and "put things by" for the long nights, read Jessica Prentice's Full Moon Feasts. Her book, subtitled "Food and the Hunger for Connection", follows the thirteen moons of an agricultural year, beginning with this month's Hunger Moon. Each of the thirteen chapters contains recipes which are in tune with the timeless rhythms of the season.

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, 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, 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

I am rather fond of Quickening Moon and Wild Moon.


Laura said...

I just can't get over the beauty of this photo!!! Wow! Absolutely gorgeous!

the wild magnolia said...

Stunning photo!

I once lived in the country and listened to owls call and it was so beautiful. Animal speak, animal world.

The Wild Moon is my favorite!

squirrel said...

Wonderful and wild...