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Full moon dances with clouds last night

The Anishinabe People (Ojibway) who live in our area call this December moon the Little Spirit Moon.  Some refer to it the Small Spirits Moon.  January’s moon is called the Great Spirit Moon. 

This month, on December 31st, another moon will rise in our night sky.  Many of us call the second moon in a month with two moons “The Blue Moon”.  Which is why you’ve probably heard the old-time saying, “once in a blue moon” implying something doesn’t happen very often.

I do not know what the Anishinabe call the Blue Moon.  I do not even know why they call this month the “Little Spirit Moon” although I could tell you some possible stories which may or may not be true.  Today it made me think of the small things in life, the little spirits, the precious gifts of life which are sometimes easy to overlook.

A small spirit: perhaps a coneflower or wild bergamot

Perhaps it’s because the sun keeps inching further and further away from our world.  As the darkness descends oh-so-early some people experience a feeling of despair or apathy or depression.  Perhaps “Small Spirits Moon” is meant to imply this is a time of year when our spirits sometimes flag or despair.  I’ve heard it said that our Christmas lights and candles burn in the darkness to help us through the bridge of the Winter Solstice.   That we share the light in this deepening darkness to help each other through these days.

As the earth in this northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun, the snows begin to fall.  The ice begins to freeze on our lakes and rivers.  We saw the first ice forming on a couple small lakes today. 

The sheen of new ice

Most of my outdoor commitment happened after dark today.  When one is planning to write a blog about the moon, one should go outside and look for it.  However, it wasn’t ready to rise in our sky at 7 p.m.  So I ambled in the dark.  How many of you have ambled in the dark in a forest?

It is a very interesting experience.

Can you see the ghostly images of trees?

You can see that it was snowing lightly this evening.  While it was dark, there seemed enough light to avoid falling in ditches, blindly running into trees or tripping over stumps.  I stayed fairly close to the house.  The wind rustled through the trees.  Suddenly–over there!–a great rustling ensued!  (My mind then began to wonder what that rustling might be.  Bears?  Deer?  Chipmunks?)  But the rustling stopped and the forest returned to silence punctuated with dog barks in the distance, perhaps the yip of a coyote, the low hoot of a faraway owl.

Our little house in the dark (with the moon in hiding)

Even though the snow fell gently down from the sky, it almost felt warm.  It’s nice to be bundled up in your warmest clothes when outside in December after dark. 

Goodnight, Little Spirit Moon.

P.S.  I just looked at the last two photos on a different computer and can not even SEE the ghostly images of trees and snow flakes and the soft etchings of our house against the darkness.  On this computer they basically look like two black photos.  Laughing…well I guess SOME of you can see the subtle ghostly images and the rest of you can enjoy the black night.   tee hee…

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Hidden lake at dusk

It’s been 336 days now.  Three hundred thirty-six days of opening the door, walking outside.  In rain, in snow, in sunshine, in happiness, in resentment, in indifference, in delight.  The outdoors has opened itself to me, and I have opened myself to it. 

One month from now, on December 21st, the Winter Solstice will occur.  One year ago on the Winter Solstice we built a big bonfire back behind the house in a clearing in the woods.  My daughter, Kiah, was home and we invited a good friend, Catherine, over for the official commitment ceremony.  We each stated what we desired to accomplish during the next year and placed our slips of paper in the fire…which carried our intention to the heavens in the form of smoke and ash.  If you want to read about that first evening by the roaring fire please click here.

And now the year is winding down, as the hours of sunlight decrease each day.  Winter approaches.  We’re moving toward the depths of the year, toward the darkest hours.  Here is the place where we perhaps dream of next year.  Where the seeds of our next movements are born.

The tiniest of tiny green mosses, up close

We contemplate, we give thanks.  We dream perhaps of new directions.  Perhaps we’ve traveled west for a while; now it’s time to travel north.  (Metaphorically speaking, of course.  I am still aiming to travel ALL directions!)  We say goodbye to the green grasses and fallen leaves.  Snow’s sleep will come upon them soon.

Red berries over wooden dock

I spent lots of time outside today.  How shall I count the ways?  Outside helping Barry with his garage-addition project (two or three times).  Outside picking stray wet leaves out of the perennial garden.  And later on in the late afternoon, Barry and I decided to drive over to Keweenaw Bay to Carla’s Restaurant.  I really didn’t need to eat out any more after last week’s eating-out-extravaganza in San Diego.  But poor Barry hasn’t eaten out much lately…so over to Carla’s we drove.

A cornucopia of red berries!

On the way there I asked, “Would you like to see the hidden lake I discovered earlier this year?”  Yes, he would like.  It’s behind the Pow Wow grounds.  You can read about the magical day of discovering the hidden lake here.

We followed the almost-hidden path back to the little lake just as dusk descended.  He liked it.  I was pleased to see the placid waters yet again.  Ducks flew up in a squawking flight of wings as we approached.  It looked like they were running across the lake as they attempted to rise.  The lake was filled with invisible duck tracks that shimmered in the fading light.

Partridge on fence?

We walked back to the car.  “Hey!  Look at that partridge over there on the fence!” I said.  Grabbed the camera, stalked toward it (probably with all the finesse of a large elephant).  Triumphant because the partridge was not moving.  It would be the best partridge photo of the year! A National Geographic up-close wild animal shot.

But wait a minute.  As I got closer it didn’t look like a partridge anymore.  It looked like…

Owl wing

…an owl wing.

An owl wing?  What was an owl wing doing here on the fence?

But then I got the shivers.

The book I am writing for NaNoWriMo is about an Ojibway medicine man named Kookookoo’oo.  (Well it’s partially about an Ojibway medicine man, but he’s a big part of the story.)  And you know what Kookookoo’oo means?  You got it. 

Owl.

I’m not 100% certain it’s an owl wing. It could be some kind of little hawk wing.  (In which case the medicine man might be saying, “Change my name, will you?”)  But I have found many owl and hawk feathers over the years and these looked more like owl. 

OK.  That’s the story of how today’s outdoor and indoor adventures and dreams all merged together.

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