The Lit Maven

Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

HorseshoeWe repaired some drains on the outside of our house recently and that lead to an extensive overhaul of the gardens.  While digging, I found a horseshoe.  We own almost an acre on a property that was once luscious farmland.  The horseshoe was at least 28 years old (as long as our part of the neighborhood was there) encrusted with rust and cemented with clay from the soil.   When was the horseshoe lost?  What was the horse’s name? Did he pull a tractor or a carriage? Did the farmer swear in anger at the loss of the shoe to his horse’s hoof or did he shrug his shoulders and think of it as another small annoyance in another busy day? How much of an expense in time and money was it to get the shoe replaced?  Did he replace the shoe himself or have it done by a farrier?  It’s amazing that the shoe was not unearthed during the house building and even more amazing that I had been living there, raking and planting for 26 years and did not find it earlier.  The horse has passed on and I’m sure the farmer has, too.  The farmer’s complaints about a bit more work to do in re-shoeing his animal, the animal’s discomfort at losing a shoe, the muck that grabbed the shoe and separated it from its owner have all faded, but I have the horseshoe.  I’ve tried in vain to clean it, but the rust is embedded now in the metal.  There are some parts of it that were flush against a hoof and I rub these every now and then and wonder at a more simplistic time in this place.

winking moonOn Saturday, September 29, 2012, northern hemisphere earthlings will be treated to a Harvest Moon, so named because farmers have traditionally used its super-bright light to harvest their crops late into the night. Corn, squash, and pumpkins among others are ready right now resulting in the Harvest Moon’s alternate name, Full Corn Moon. Rising around sunset, the moon is considered “full” when it is directly across from the sun in the sky. This will happen at 11:19 p.m. EDT and AT THE SAME TIME, will meet Uranus! A Harvest Moon (the full moon closest to the fall equinox) rises at closer intervals each night of the cycle than a “normal” full moon – approximately 30 minutes difference from night to night in New York City vs. the regular 50 minutes. 2012’s Harvest Moon is late – last year, it occurred on September 11 – but it is well within its range, September 8 to October 7. This is not a big issue, though. We enjoyed a Blue Moon in August, so our Harvest Moon can be forgiven for being tardy.

The moon, especially a full moon, has always been a source of mystery, romance and fantasy. Who has not heard of “The Man in the Moon”, Old Devil Moon or Shine On, Harvest Moon? Native Americans as great lovers of nature, have different names for every full moon in the year, such as Full Snow Moon (February) and Full Flower Moon (May). And – moon mythology? Alive and well, thank you, despite humans leaving footprints on its dusty surface. Not bad for the Earth’s only natural satellite! If you read this blog after the Harvest Moon, you still have something to look forward to. In October, there will be Hunter’s Moon, the first full moon after the Harvest Moon.

So, when you look on the harvest moon this week, think of William Blake and his sweet poem, “The moon, like a flower/ In heaven’s high bower/ With silent delight/ Sits and smiles on the night.”