Midnight Berries under the Strawberry Moon

I missed the mooIMG_4737n! More specifically I missed the rising of June’s full moon. But that won’t stop me from writing about it, or from gazing up into the night sky every chance I get.

One of the best things about the June moon is that it welcomes the arrival of warm weather. It is the Rose Moon, the Lotus Moon, the Green Corn Moon and the Planting Moon. But those aren’t its only names. My favorite names are the two that make my mouthwater and bring back memories of my recent trip to the Great Smokey Mountains.

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It is the Moon when June Berries are Ripe and the Strawberry Moon. Yum!

The black bear looks up at the sky. The moon is full and it shines brightly through the trees and onto the entrance of her den. She nudges brown and rust leaves from the forest floor until the opening is hidden, then pauses to listen to the steady breathing of her two cubs. Confident in their safety, she turns away to begin her nightly foraging.

Leaves rustle and twigs snap under her paws as she lumbers through the woods to the rotten stump. This is her routine. She uses her claws to tear away the soft wood, then digs her nose into the moist pulp to slurp up the insects before they can scatter to safety. Satisfied she makes her way toward the edge of the forest, snacking on bits of vegetation as she travels. The wind blows, carrying a sweet scent to her nostrils.  Her mouth waters and she breaks from her usual foraging pattern, drawn to the aroma of berries.

But she is tense. This is farther than she usually ventures from her den. She listens for a cry from her cubs, as she allows the sweet, scent to draw her forward.

She steps into the field. Along the edge of the woods are prickly bushes IMG_5213covered with berries, but they haven’t ripened. She looks down. Wild, red strawberries surround her feet. She settles onto her haunches to nibble at the feast, her black fur glistening in the moonlight as the sweet juices run down the back of her throat.

As she stretches her nose to the ground to fill it with another mouthful of the sweet fruit, a whimpering cry reaches her ears. The berries forgotten, she crashes through the brush toward the cries of her cubs.

Outside her den, something moves in the shadows. With a roar, she rises to her hind legs. A raccoon dashes away, disappearing into the night. The bear drops back down on all fours and slips into her undisturbed den. She curls up around her cubs and they snuggle into her fur and begin to nurse. She closes her eyes, content to rest with her young. She will wait for the early morning light, when the sun once again takes over the sky to bring her cubs to the edge of the forest. Together they will enjoy the luscious berries.

I sometimes wonder why I’m drawIMG_5018n to the moon and the night sky. I think it’s because when I gaze into it, I see infinite space. A space not so different from the blank page on my laptop. As my imagination fills the emptiness, my fingers move across the keyboard and soon a story appears.

IMG_4376 IMG_4402Just like the pages of a book, every shining star is a far-away world waiting to be experienced.

What does your night sky represent?

Teri Lee is the author of Troubled Spirits, a YA paranormal novel.

May’s Moon – a ‘Hare’ raising Tale.

Tonight is the night of the full moon of May. Some may call it the Full Flower Moon, named for the abundance of spring flowers that dance in the light of the moon as we sleep,

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or the Full Planting Moon, a signal to begin tucking tiny seeds into their beds of soil. It is also the Full Milk Moon, in celebration of the happy cows that have been moved into the pasture to graze on lush green grass.

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I love each of these names for the May moon, just because I love spring. But my favorite name for this moon is its English Medieval name—the Full Hare Moon.

The moon and hare have a long history together. The Egyptians believed the hare to be a messenger to the female moon goddess. And to the pagans, a moon-gazing hare is a sign of fertility, growth and new-beginnings. But these tales of the moon and the hare are not what draws me to this Full Hare Moon of May.

The hare raises her nose and sniffs the warming night time air. Her long ears swivel as she listens to the sounds of night—the sleepy chirps of birds as they settle into their nests, the song of a cricket from the nearby woods, and someplace in the distance a wolf howls. Feeling exposed under the bright light of the full moon she hops cautiously into the field.

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Spring has taken a solid hold on her meadow and the tender green grass is so sweet that she soon forgets her caution. Only a few hours ago, she’d raced through this same meadow as she’d tested her mate’s speed. It was in this very spot that she’d slowed, then rose onto her hind legs and boxed him in the face. She was pleased that he did not turn away, instead he resumed the chase as she dashed away from him once more. She felt satisfied that she’d chosen a good mate.

A shadow moved over her. With a squeal, she pushed off with her strong hind legs. She felt the owl’s talons brush her tail as she raced across the meadow. She darted left, then right.

She could see the trees now. How had she wandered so far away from them?

The shadow glided across the field—closer, closer… The whoosh of wings filled her ears and she felt the rush of air against her fur. But the sharp talons closed on empty air.

With one final leap, she reached the woods and ducked into the shelter of a large rhododendron. She flattened her ears as the owl’s screech filled the night air. Safe in her shelter, the hare looked up through the leaves at the moon. She thanked the bright moon for its shadowy warning that had changed her fate.

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As I gaze up at the moon tonight, I will look for the hare on the moon. The Egyptians, Chinese, and Native Americans all have legends as to how that hare came to live on the moon. But for me, that hare is a reminder to pay attention to the world around me and to enjoy this life.

This is a shot I took of last night’s moon. The moon was still low in the sky and the reflections ohare moonf light in the atmosphere gave it this beautiful orange glow. Try to ignore my substandard drawing skills, but I traced out the two images of the hare on the moon for you.

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Teri Lee is the author of Troubled Spirits, a YA paranormal novel

Welcome Spring

It might not feel like it to some of my northern friends, but winter is officially over and spring has begun!  I love this time of year, when fresh green leaves burst from their buds and flowering blooms erupt in a kaleidoscope of color.

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On April 4th when the spring moon rises, it will be a blood moon—a total lunar eclipse. As the moon passes through the earth’s dark shadow, it will turn a rusty or red color. But don’t blink, because this eclipse will be over in a five short minutes. Here on the East coast (EDT) I’ll be checking the night sky at 2:01 AM on Saturday morning. Click here to find out the best time to catch sight of the blood moon in your area.

Photo Credit - Kevin Lyons
Photo Credit – Kevin Lyons

Like all moons, April’s full moon has many names.The most common is the Spring Moon, for obvious reasons. To the Abenaki it is the Sugar Moon (now my mouth is watering for some real maple syrup).

 

 

Along with other flowery names, it is also known as the Pink moon, named for the pink flox that burst into bloom in early spring.

But it’s most common name among Native Americans has to do with geese. It is the Moon When Geese Lay Their Eggs, the Gray Goose Moon, and Moon when Geese Return in Scattered Formation. If you’ve stumbled upon my #PhotographyJourney on Instagram, Facebook or my website, then you have already guessed these are my favorites.

 

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The goose thrusts his feet forward and spreads his wings, pulling them back to slow his descent. Water splashes up around him, sending rippling waves across the surface of the lake. There is another splash beside him as his mate lands.

 

 

Together they glide across the lake toward the tall green grass growing along a small island in the center of the lake. This has been their nesting site for the past three years and he is anxious to claim it once again.water grass

The sun has disappeared behind the trees as they step onto the island, shake the water from their tail feathers and waddle up the embankment. A crow caws from a nearby tree, breaking the stillness of the evening, then flies off leaving them alone on their island.

Despite the rapidly darkening sky, his mate begins gathering twigs and grass to start the nest. The gander returns to the water, dipping his head beneath the surface to nibble on the tender water plants. He spots movement at the edge of the water and glides over to investigate. A raccoon looks up. Their eyes meet and the gander circles away, moving silently through the water. He waits until the raccoon is gone before he turns back to the island. Although his mate has yet to lay her eggs he is not willing to risk exposing the location of the nest.

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The light of the full moon shimmers on the now smooth lake surface as he settles in beside her. He tucks his beak beneath his wing. Tomorrow they will finish the nest. He closes his eyes and drifts off to sleep dreaming of the fluffy yellow and gray goslings that will soon trail behind him as he sails across the lake.

I’ll be working in the ER during this full moon, but I’ll sneak outside to soak up a bit of the Moon when Geese Lay Their Eggs so that I can absorb a refreshing burst of spring inspiration while I continue my work on the sequel to Troubled Spirits.

 

Photo Credit - Allen Moscowitz
Photo Credit – Allen Moscowitz

Don’t miss this full moon and if you manage to snap a shot of the blood moon, please share in the comment section below. I’d love to see it!

 

 

 

Goodbye Winter Moon

This year’s micro-moon will rise into the night sky on March 5th. Because of its current distance from the earth it is the smallest moon of the year, but for me it represents something big—something exciting—the end of winter!

Photo Credit: Jackie Tiner
Photo Credit: Jackie Tiner

Many of the March moon monikers symbolize this welcome transition of the seasons. After months of the bright winter sun reflecting off the snow, some Native Americans call this The Moon When Eyes are Sore from the Bright Snow. And as the snow melts in the warming daytime temperatures only to freeze again at night, a thick crust forms on the snow, providing inspiration for another name–the Full Crust Moon.

Photo Credit: Lyons Den Photography
Photo Credit: Lyons Den Photography

Soon the winds will dry the melting snow, which is why the Celts call it the Moon of Winds.

As always, I have a favorite name for this month’s moon. It is the Full Crow Moon.

Photo credit: Jodi Tiner (Access Photography)
Photo credit: Jodi Tiner (Access Photography)

The winter wind ruffles the crow’s black feathers as he soars just above the bare branches of the sleeping trees, their roots tucked safely away beneath the long winter’s snow.

sunset (2) The  western sky is ablaze with the colors of the setting sun. As the the crow turns eastward he is greeted by the moon.

Impatient for darkness it shines before him in the blue sky.

The crow circles once, then alights at the top of a towering pine. He caws, disturbing the evening stillness as he welcomes the last moon of winter.

He too is impatient. He is ready for the melting of the snow and the softening of the earth which will bring the worms to the surface.  He is ready for the trees to once again be filled with fresh green leaves, teeming with insects. He is ready to soak upearlymoon1 the warmth of the sun.

When I look up at the Full Crow Moon, I too will say goodbye to winter. Although I’ll  pass on the teeming insects, like the crow, I crave the warmth of the sun, trees filled with fresh green leaves, and the emergence of colorful spring flowers. I can hardly wait to soak in their beauty!  What’s your favorite part of spring?

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