In our own backyard....The night of the Full Wolf MoonAmid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs once howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, the Native Americans chose the name for January’s full moon – the Full Wolf Moon.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs once howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, the Native Americans chose the name for January’s full moon – the Full Wolf Moon.
Though the big snows haven’t really come yet this winter, and neither has the bitter cold, it wasn’t difficult to understand why Monday night’s full moon was so aptly named....
The moon had risen over the tree line about the time I arrived home from work that night, enormous and orange and exuding a kind of silent dignity not present in the flamboyant displays of summer. It took my breath away, and I suggested to my husband that we go out and ski around the frozen lake in the moonlight. As he and I clamored down the steep path from our house to the lake with cross country skis slung over our shoulders, we could already see the broad swath of unearthly light across the frozen ice and snow.
We had donned headlights, but as soon as we got to the lake and strapped on our skis, it was apparent that we didn’t need them. We happily snuffed them out and set out across the glowing ice side by side, with the moon lighting our way. For a time, we moved away from the direct path of the moon and soon realized that the stars seemed extra bright on this night as well, with a planet on the western horizon outshining them all.
We soon swung north, along a row of summer cabins with their windows darkened and their boats hauled up in their yards for the winter. Animal tracks were everywhere, as though the deer and foxes and rabbits had been out reveling in the moonlight as well.
“Stop!” I suddenly cried out. “Listen.....”
And as the clatter and whir of our skis on the icy snow came to a halt, we could hear the ice “singing” to us – a low, almost musical sound from far down in its depths, sort of like plucking the lowest string on a bass vial, or the haunting moan of the Beluga whales we’d heard in Alaska.
As we started back up once again, the ice below our skis emitted a sharp crack.
“Whoooooa!” we both cried, as we skittered closer to the shoreline as fast as our cumbersome skis would allow. And while we knew the ice was still several inches thick, it seemed that the moonlight and the lake were playing tricks on us and we grew a little leery.
The neighbor’s sled dogs must have heard us, because they set up a mournful howl in the distance.
I couldn’t help but recall that only a few short months ago, we’d paddled our kayaks out to this same shoreline and waited for the full moon to rise. An osprey was perched in a big dead tree overhanging the lake, and he waited it out with us, becoming only a black silhouette against the sky during the interlude between darkness and moonrise. The loons set up their nighttime chorus, and the air was soft and mild.
Now, here we were, watching the moon come up once again. Only this time, the osprey was long gone, as were the loons, and the lake that once carried us along with its wave was now holding us on its shoulders.
It was hard to turn our backs on it all. We climbed the path to the house, and the trees slowly blocked out the moon until all we could see was its reflection on the sparkling snow.
There were no wolves baying around our door that night, but the night of the Full Wolf Moon held a certain eerie magic to it that we will not soon forget.