It's October and we are well into the nippy fall weather under a plump harvest moon. This morning I harvested more of my yellow pear tomatoes and the pinkish ones with low acidity which Jean thinks are an Amish variety. My sunflowers have been decimated by a squirrel. My son and I watched it sitting on the high fence chowing down on the seeds and she was so fat it looked liked she had swallowed a small bowling ball. She knocked down some of my taller Earthwalker plants so I cut off the heads and saved them for teaching projects. I'm leaving the remaining beans to get nice and plump for drying and seed-saving. I also cut down some of the fennel umbrels that have matured to dry in the back porch. Our beehives which split in a swarm earlier in the year have now been combined and today they were very active in the mid-morning sun. There are Jerusalem artichokes blooming in our neighbourhood and a few fall flowers here and there, but we are feeding the bees sugar water as well (as a last resort) because they need more stored food for the winter.
Yesterday I went to UBC Farm for the market and to gather more seeds. One of the ag profs was lecturing near the flower patch so I got to hear a few of his anecdotes, which was fun. He was good at answering the student's questions with something like "Well that depends on which context you're working in, and what your purpose is..." He talked about seed-saving as something you do by marking each plant carefully and noting which seeds were gathered from specific plants, or gather open-pollenated seeds willy-nilly as I was. The field pumpkins were as orange as orange can be, and I bought some chai-spice honey from Jane's Bees, which I'm really excited about. I also bought some Mayan beans to make pots of steaming Halloween chilli.
I suppose we will have frost by the end of the month and the wild geese and ducks will have flown over my mom and dad's house in Saskatchewan to warmer climes. (If they haven't been shot down by hunters in camo for Thanksgiving Day tables.) It's interesting that the Mohawk, which is a woodland culture, refer to this as the Poverty Moon when the agricultural first nations moon names refer to putting the harvest away in caches, storing it for the winter. I'm a bit baffled by the Assiniboine terms: Joins Both Sides Moon and Striped Gopher Looks Back Moon. The terms of October seem cloaked in a deep mystery, holding the earth's secrets a little bit closer as darkness falls on the land. Perhaps the most haunting is the Kiowa October moon: Wait Until I Come, suggesting a reunion after a long hunting or fishing trip. I am comforted by the Dakota tasks of October under a moon when quilling and beading is done. I look forward to hibernating and drawing and stitching my way through this winter with mugs of hot chai. In Medieval English, this is the month of The Blood Moon, when the spirit world draws itself close to ours and whispers to our semi-conscious minds as we struggle to wake ourselves in the dark mornings. How will you prepare your body for winter?
Northern Arapaho, Abenaki (northeast, Maine): Leaf Falling Moon
Anishnaabe, Algonquin (Northeast to the Great Lakes): white frost on the grass and the ground
Apache (southern plains): time when the corn is taken in
Assiniboine (northern plains): Joins Both Sides Moon or Striped Gopher looks Back Moon
Cherokee (East Coast, Carolinas): Harvest Moon
Cheyenne (Great Plains): Moon when the Water Begins to Freeze on the Edge of the Streams
Cree (Northern Plains, Canada): The Moon the Birds Fly South
Dakota (Plains): Moon When Quilling and Beading is Done
Haidi (Alaska): Bears hibernate
Hopi (Southwest, Arizona): Month of Long Hair and Month of Harvesting
Kalapuya (Pacific Northwest, Oregon): Atchalankuaik - start getting sagittair roots
Kiowa: Early October--Ten Colds Moon; Late October: Wait Until I Come
Mohawk (Eastern Woodlands): Poverty
Ponca (Southern Plains): Moon when they store food in Caches
Potawatomi (Great Lakes): Month of the First Frost
Shawnee (Midwest, Ohio, Pennsylvania): Wilted Moon
Sioux (Great Plains, Dakotas, Nebraska): Changing Seasons
I am indebted to this web site from the Western Washington University Planetarium for helping me with placing the tribes referred to here.
ETA: This resource was actually created by Phil Konstantin who allowed the Plantarium to use it with his permission: http://americanindian.net/moons.html