I’ve been feeling wordless lately.
No worthwhile topic I’m itching to write about. No current stream-of-consciousness idea presenting itself to me as worthy of words on the page/screen.
Instead, I turn to my dogs and let them console and entertain me. They’re good at that.
Conall’s Food Bank for Ravens has had empty shelves for several days now. I’m not sure why. I think it has to do with the depth and weight of the snow covering the yard (it has been warm, even raining some, so the snow has consolidated). I no longer see vole tunnels reaching to the surface, or their scat on the snow. Nor do Conall and Finn dig through the snow in search of them. Maybe Conall caught them all? That’s hard to believe. In any event, the ravens still fly low over the house every morning, searching and hoping for some food but leaving disappointed.
The Wolf Moon – the January 28, 2021 full moon – was obscured by storm clouds here. It snowed. A lot. But as dawn approached on January 30th, the nearly-full Wolf Moon’s bright light broke through thin clouds, making the landscape gleam as if it were lit by a blacklight lamp fluorescing the snow-covered ground and trees.
A little history about the Wolf Moon from earthsky.org:
Where does the name Wolf Moon come from? It’s tempting to think of hungry wolves howling outside snow-covered villages at this time of year. The name is often said to come from Native American culture, but Indian Country Today pointed out in 2013 that the name Wolf Moon doesn’t appear on the lists of American Indian moon names compiled by Phil Konstantin, who worked for NASA, among other places. Indian Country Today wrote:
Of the 29 tribes listed [by Phil Konstantin], not one actually calls January the Wolf Moon, although the Sioux name is Wolves Run Together Moon. The Algonquin … call the January moon squochee kesos, or Sun Has Not Strength to Thaw …
The moon names tend to mirror latitude somewhat. For instance, to the Haida in Alaska it’s táan kungáay, or Bear-Hunting Moon. The Hopi in southwest Arizona call it paamuya, Moon of Life at its Height. In the Pacific Northwest it’s atalka, meaning Stay Inside. Moving farther south, the Choctaw word for the January full moon is rv’fo cusee, which means Winter’s Little Brother (as opposed to December’s moon, rvfo-rakko, meaning Big Winter).earthsky.org
As the Wolf Moon set and daylight arrived on January 30th, the boys and I headed up into the forest to play in the snow.
The weather has been atypical lately, which I suspect is part of why I’m feeling uninspired. Usually in late January and early February it’s really cold, the air is crisp, the nights are clear, the dark sky filled with stars so big and bright you feel you can touch them if you stand on tip-toes and simply reach.
This winter has been warm and wet, with more clouds. A little dreary.
But that doesn’t stop the boys and me from playing in the snow. Sometimes, though, there can be too much of a good thing. Such as when two feet of new snow falls in a 48–72-hour period – wet, heavy snow that poses significant danger to backcountry skiers because of the high avalanche risk – making for challenging conditions. We soldier on, even if we have to turn back from a trail run earlier than hoped. We still call it a success because at least we got out into the forest, into nature, and played.
Back home after that short run in the deep snow, Conall had a conversation with a coyote. This time I could see the coyote, who had come out from a tree-filled gully to make his calls.
I have a sad feeling that this particular coyote was calling for, searching for, his family. He’s been calling around 4:00 am several mornings. I’ve heard rifle shots close by recently – two or three shots at a time, on a couple different days – and suspect neighbors are shooting coyotes. They’re more easily seen against winter’s snowy background. It’s a thing here, shooting coyotes. Many consider them vermin, pests. People are cruel, thoughtless, stupid. Watching this coyote expose himself by coming out in daylight and calling so continuously, hoping for a response, broke my heart. After capturing the video I brought Conall inside so he wouldn’t interfere with the call-response of the coyote. Stepping back outside, alone, I listened as that coyote called continuously for another 15 minutes. I strained to hear a response, but never did. The coyote eventually gave up and retreated behind the trees of the gully.
Later that day, there was a beautiful sunset, lifting my spirits. The yin to the Wolf Moon’s yang.
I think the boys enjoyed it, too. Why wouldn’t they?
This morning – before the rain started – the boys and I again played in the forest. I’ve been experimenting with the slow-motion feature on my phone’s video. While most of the time Conall loves to pose for photos, I’m discovering that he’s not an actor; capturing scenes on video of him doing what he usually does unprompted has been challenging. Two days ago, I tried to get video of him running down a short but steep pitch of trail that he usually zooms down in delight when we’re returning to the trail head, but he wouldn’t run, not with me standing behind him. So, this morning, heading up the trail and after watching Conall climb that same short hill but staying below him, I said, “Conall, let’s go back!” which was a lie but I knew it would entice him to run back down the hill, thinking we were returning to the trail head.
And he did. He punched through the snow at the top, almost doing a face plant, but quickly recovered.
I guess I’m learning I shouldn’t worry about “not having something to say.” Maybe I should just be more dog-like, enjoying each day as it presents itself, savoring whatever gifts it provides, believing that’s enough.
And revel in the light – and energy – of the Wolf Moon.
Feature photo: Wolf Moon setting on January 30, 2021.