The Great Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina is on fire. An acreage the size of Williamsburg is burning, and is likely to continue to burn for weeks or months. The smoke is so voluminous that it can be seen in satellite photos from space. And this morning, in the early hours, the winds brought that smoke to our town.
In the night, we awoke to the smell of it: campfire and peat, filling the house. At dawn, we saw it at last, blanketing the lake, encircling the trees and houses, and screening the sun, which shone red from behind. Shepherding breezes have prodded much of the smoke onward over the course of the morning, though some haziness and much of its scent still lingers.
We wonder what tonight’s full moon will be like.
The August moon is often known as the Dog Days Moon. The name has origins with the Greeks and Romans, who termed the summer days when the dog star, Sirius, and the sun rose simultaneously in the sky as the Dog Days of Summer, since the event typically occurred between July and September and coincided with the hottest part of the season. It’s interesting to note that this simultaneous rising of Sirius and the sun no longer comes at summer’s peak due to shifts in the Earth’s axis of rotation – and, hence, the dates of the equinoxes – that have occurred since Roman times.
Enjoy the full moon, and remember to kick back to breathe easy on this Code Red day, southeastern Virginia friends!
We’ve been seeing a lot of the moon in recent weeks. Well, lots of moonlight, at least, sifting in through the windows as we are up tending to the sweet little one.
Tonight’s full moon is the Wolf Moon, so-called, legend has it, because of wolf packs which once circled towns and encampments in the January cold, howling to make their winter hunger known.
No wolves to be found in these parts these days, but nonetheless, we’ll be glad to be safe and snug in our warm abode this evening.
Happy Full Moon to you!
Bright spots in a long day:
1. Sweetums in his monkey cap.
2. A trio of celestial delights: a full moon, a lunar eclipse, and the winter solstice, all in the next 24 hours! If the baby has this household up late into the night, we’ll get to witness the eclipse, which should make the moon appear as a red ball in the sky!
The stars (and planets and moons) are aligning…
Here we are once more: the full moon! In North America, the most common name for November’s moon is the Beaver Moon, in part because, for fur-trappers, November is an excellent time to lay traps for that animal, and in part because beavers are busy building winter dams this month. (For those of you wondering: we’ve not seen our backyard beaver since our last encounter — the tree remains downed, and sadly unused.)
The last few days have reminded us why we call the fall The Fall: from above, a steady downward flutter of leaves, drifting, blanketing the lawn. The locals agree: the autumn colors have been unusually beautiful this year — and autumn itself has been wondrously long. Many bright, warm days. Perfect for walking, and soaking up the sun’s rays.
As Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air. Well, in my case, perhaps not all the daylight hours. But at least an hour a day, Matt, the baby, and I are out in the autumn glow!
The weeks are flying by. One month until the first day of winter, the winter solstice — which also happens to be December’s full moon. A fun coincidence! And just over a month until this baby arrives. He or she is growing well — healthy and strong! Big kicks this month, and lots of hiccups. Above: a quick photo snapped late this afternoon (staring into the sun — explains the squint!). The belly is big, and I love it! All is well.
Happy autumn to you all!
Busy day. Beautiful day!
Impromptu garage sale. Unexpected profits!
Let go of the old. Made room for the new!
Lightened our load. A wonderful feeling!
Fall is here. Brilliant orange in the backyard!
Full moon tonight. Kindly Moon to the Chinese!
Hunter’s Moon to the Colonial Americans. I’m with the Chinese!
Tomorrow: cleaning house for more (wonderful) visitors. Happy anticipation!
An artist friend, her baby girl, and mother. First visit with the littlest!
Happy late October to you. With love!
Happy Autumnal Equinox, everyone! I do love these natural holidays, courtesy of the tilt of the Earth and its annual journey around the sun. We get four such holidays per year: two solstices, two equinoxes. How lucky we are!
Today, daylight and darkness are in perfect balance. Tomorrow, nighttime edges past day, growing steadily longer until we reach the winter solstice on December 21 — the longest night of the year, and my favorite natural holiday, as it marks the slow but welcome return of the sun!
Traditionally, the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon. This year, the two events fall on the very same date! For Native Americans and colonial farmers, the Harvest Moon was an ideal time to gather corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice from the fields. Under the light of the moon, the peak harvest could continue late into the night.
Though I love the moon, the sun has my heart. From babyhood, in fact — my first word beyond “mama” and “dada” was light!
In honor of the autumnal equinox, and in halting farewell to the sun, excerpts from this, a favorite poem:
One More Hymn to the Sun
You know that like an ideal mother
she will never leave you,
though after a week of rain
you begin to worry
but you accept her brief absences,
her occasional closed doors
as the prerogative
of an eccentric lover . . .
You like the fact that her moods are an orderly version of yours,
arranged, like the needs of animals,
by seasons: her spring quirks,
her sexual summers,
her steadfast warmth in the fall;
you remember her face on Christmas Day,
blurred, and suffused with the weak smile
of a woman who has just given birth
The way she loves you, your whole body,
and still leaves enough space between you
to keep you from turning to cinders
before your time! . . .
She never gave up on you
though it took you billions of years
to learn the alphabet
and the shadow you cast on the ground
changed its shape again and again
- Lisel Mueller, The Missouri Review, 2.1, Fall 1978
Tonight is July’s full moon, which is known by many names in the Northern Hemisphere. Algonquin tribes called it the Buck Moon, in honor of the fact that antlers begin to appear on the foreheads of buck deer this month. (We’ve seen evidence this in our own backyard!) To the Cherokee, July’s moon was the Ripe Corn Moon — and if you’ve tasted fresh corn lately, you’re likely to agree on the aptness of that name. To Colonial Americans, this month held the Hay Moon, and to the medieval English, the Mead Moon.
A toast to tonight’s moon! With mead, if you’ve got it.
The Algonquins called it the Strawberry Moon (because, after all, June is prime berry-pickin’ season here in the States). The Europeans called it the Rose Moon. The Chinese called it the Lotus Moon. Any which name you know it by, this moon shines its light on all of us tonight!
Full Strawberry Moon
Was that right, or
Maybe a rose moon
Shared that night in June
A curtain of mist
On my lenses
Stare at our satellite
See the face in orange
And dusty rose
Full moon, new blood
Across the miles
Seeing it together
- Raymond A. Foss
Today, I decided to try venturing outside the house to work at the library again, after my long, morning-sick hiatus. The path to the library takes me by this garden, which the William & Mary grounds crew updates regularly with flowers of the season. (So colorful, so cheerful!) My return to the library was a good one, in part due to something called The One Minute Rule.
I learned of The One Minute Rule from Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project book and blog. The One Minute Rule is this: if you face a task that will take less than one minute to complete, always do it — don’t procrastinate! Wash that dish, answer that e-mail, sort that mail, wipe that counter, load that washing machine, pick up those socks.
By good nature or by good training, my husband seems to have internalized The One Minute Rule sometime in back in childhood. He washes his dishes, he puts his books away, he answers e-mails promptly, and on trash day he brings the emptied garbage can back from the curb at his first opportunity. (Well, most of the time, anyway.)
I, on the other hand, pile the dishes in the sink (“They’re soaking!”), leave books and magazines strewn about (“I’m reading that!”), have over 1000 messages in my inbox (“Oh, I really should answer that one…soon”), and merely stare at the garbage can from the window for much of the day until guilt and a feeling of bad-neighborliness compel me to roll it back to its proper place.
The trouble, though, is that a cluttered home is stressful to me. When I realized that most of the clutter around our house was mine (not Matt’s!), and that mostly it was due to my habit of not finishing things that I start (on scales both small and large), I concluded it was time for action (and action on a daily basis, not action in the form of my usual sporadic whirlwinds of decluttering).
“Start small!” I thought. Holding myself to The One Minute Rule seemed like a good beginning. And I must say: it works. Committing to tackling every project that can be completed in one minute gives a person both a feeling of forward movement and an emptier inbox and a cleaner kitchen counter.
The Rule has also nudged me in the direction of breaking down larger projects into smaller, more manageable ones that can be done, if not in a minute, then in ten or fifteen — a habit which leads to a nice sense of progress, rather than a perpetual feeling of running, without moving, toward a far-off goal. (Like the completion of a dissertation — hence, my progress at the library today.)
Try it out! I’m still pretty new to the rule, but already have seen what a help it can be to little ol’ procrastinators like me. Color me happy about it.
Have a happy weekend, everyone! Tomorrow is the first full moon of summer — perfect for a moonlit stroll in the cool of the evening! Enjoy it!
Another full moon tonight! Nicknames for March’s moon vary among cultures, but a common theme is wind — The Windy Moon, the Moon of Winds. The last few nights have indeed been windy in these parts, but this afternoon we’ve got sun and a gentle breeze. A perfect day for lunch outside on the porch!
As I thought I might, I am making today another fasting day. Remember, there are many ways to fast, and a great one is the vegetable-and-grain fast: for one day, choosing to eat only vegetables and whole grains, drink only herbal tea and water, and do nothing but eat and drink while eating and drinking (no computer, no TV, no phone). Taking a day — just one day — to be mindful of what and how one eats. A day to rest the body. A day to treat yourself well!
I really enjoy these fast days. They are something different, something good. A nice ritual to introduce into the rhythm of one’s month. I will admit that I was actually excited when I woke up this morning and remembered, “It’s Fast Day!”
Today’s menu: steamed potatoes and kale for breakfast, red lentils and rice for lunch (on the porch in the sunshine!), veggie sticks and hummus for snacks, and vegetable soup for dinner.