I started my walk down the road an hour and 15 minutes after the solstice. An eighth of a mile along the moon was high enough to see. It was as big as I remember seeing a moon (it’s supposed to be 15% bigger). It’s intense glow (it’s supposed to be 30% brighter) made it seem even bigger. A Great horned owl might have spotted it too; unless he was just calling from the tree with the Osprey nest because it was dusk. In fact, lots of birds were calling with their final messages of the day and maybe their bellies full of worms.
This has been a super year for viewing super moons right from my stoop. I reported here on the super moon eclipse in January that took a path that conveniently allowed me to follow it from the mud room landing. I managed only to notice how white the meadow was in February so awash with moon light that I had to go to go outside to make sure it had not snowed. Tonight’s moon followed me up and down the road as it climbed, lost some of it’s yellow and, ironically, both filled out to its fullest and shrank.
My photos will show you that you had to be here to fully experience this and that I don’t know how to take photographs of glowing objects in low light.
Worm super moon rising
And rising more
And nearest its fullest form
Not surprisingly, the National Geographic has better photos than mine — though they aren’t of this Worm moon — and a clear explanation of the moon’s orbit. Two facts about this moon struck me. First, the moon is only 223,309 miles away. I have easily flown that many miles just as an adult. Maybe people are not crazy to think that soon we’ll be invading. Second, the next time a super moon will rise this close to the equinox, 19 years from now, I might not be around to see it just as I hope not to be around for non-astronauts landing on the moon.
The full moon of March apparently is called the Worm moon because the sun has warmed the earth enough for worms to begin moving around, feeding birds including American robins, who dutifully have begun to return. The Farmer’s Almanac says that native Americans called the March full moon the Crow moon. They were on the something: the crows came back about a week ago along with the FOY Red-winged black birds, a New Englander’s real harbinger of spring.
The crocuses and the daffodils also attest to the warming earth and the longer day. These popped out of the ground earlier this month. The skunk cabbage appeared on the 1st. Who needs iCal. Certainly not our orb or the flora and fauna.
A flock of birds, likely robins, devoured the winterberries. I missed the feeding frenzy this year. with its loud, chaotic soundtrack. The berries are said to have a higher nutrient value after a hard freeze. We’ve had plenty of those, so I assume the birds got a big boost from the berries. They certainly stripped the bushes clean.
Small-waisted red cedar
Deer have browsed an even smaller waist into the red cedar at the edge of the meadow. The “Deer Out” I sprayed in the fall apparently was not a deterrent or maybe the deer have been especially hungry this season. I am grateful they have left the rhodies along the road intact.
A great horned owl called all night on Valentine’s eve. I heard him while I was snuggled up in my reading nook before bed, the couple of times I awoke during the night and again in the light of early dawn. If he was calling a mate, he got no answer. He’s moved out of hearing distance the past few nights, but I know I’m living in his territory.
I love the rufous hue of little bluestem in winter. Its fuzzy flowers catch the sunlight in a magical way. The tan switchgrass is a blah color, although its inflorescence–the highest in the field now as in summer–is majestic. The broome sedge has more red than switchgrass and less little bluestem, but it’s feathery stalks make up for the fact that its a lousy forage plant. Unlike the winterberries and the cedar, no one’s eating it anyway.
Finally, the days are getting longer. The sun rose today at 6:32 and set at 17:22. The arc it takes through the sky is still low to the horizon making long shadows, even at noon.
The three resident Red squirrels (and I do hope they are not in residence in any of my structures!) were in a noisy twit by the Sugar maple. I went to the porch for a look. It was that period of time mysteriously called nautical twilight — roughly 9:00 to 9:30 pm these days — by the website I use to check on the sun and the moon. I scanned in the dying light for the squirrels, but saw instead on a branch of the Sugar maple just off the porch the silhouette of a Great-horned owl. I could not make out his facial features, but he turned his head nearly 360 degrees, as owls can. I slipped inside for my bins but he took off before I returned exiting, as owls can, in complete silence.
His departure allowed the squirrels to go the sleep. The relative quiet of crickets and frogs singing their evening songs suited the complete silence of the June bugs. Nautical twilight and a waxing crescent moon provided enough light for a meadow stroll. Do the June bugs like certain parts of the meadow better than others, I wondered. In general, I’d say the population of June bugs is down, perhaps because I have been killing them in their grub stage as I’ve been digging in up grass to reduce the lawn. As I was coming to the conclusion they liked the less dry areas of the meadow better than the Little bluestem grassland, the Great-horned owl swooped across the meadow headed for the forest. If I had not seen him — this time just his in flight form — I never would have known he was there.
Nautical twilight was giving way to astronomical twilight, but the deck of the folly reflected the moonlight. I stopped by to reconsider the distribution of June bugs in the meadow. Now it seemed there were as many June bugs in the bluestem as anywhere else in the meadow. A deer I could not make out brayed somewhere near the wall and the stream. Time to head home.
Back in the house, it’s night. From here the sounds include moths bumping into lights, the occasional car passing, crickets and frogs calling. One night earlier this week, I woke up to the wails of distress. I must call 911, I thought, until I came to enough to remember that I was neither in NYC nor DC, and the cries were not human calls for help. Somewhere just off the porch, a creature was meeting its end at the jaws of another creature, likely a coyote or a Fisher cat. Too bad the meal wasn’t a Red squirrel, although without the squirrels, I would have missed the Great-horned owl.