Wolf Moon

I’ve been feeling wordless lately.

Shocker, right?

It happens.

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.

dogs, moon
Finn and Conall watching Wolf Moon setting at dawn January 30, 2021 as it cast an eerie blue glow on the snowy landscape.

Beautiful.

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.

dogs, trees, snow
Conall enjoys a brief gnaw on the elk leg he found here days ago. Finn searches for more forest treasure in the snow. (He didn’t find any.)
dogs, snow, trees
Conall followed the narrow track of a snowbike (a trail motorcycle modified for snow) away from our snowmobile track. Finn followed Conall, who had decided the trail didn’t go anywhere interesting.
dogs, snow
Finn, seeing the trail blocked by Conall, made an awkward turnaround in the narrow track.

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.

Trying to run through narrow troughs of semi-packed snow on February 1, 2021. The dogs fared better than I did.
With four-paw drive the dogs maintained balance. I, however, felt like I was trying to run on a balance beam, sometimes post-holing along the edges of the track, wishing I had poles.

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.

Conall conversing with a coyote, February 1, 2021.

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.

The sky aflame just after sunset, February 1, 2021.

I think the boys enjoyed it, too. Why wouldn’t they?

Boys, earlier, basking in the sun’s glow as it descended toward the horizon.

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.

Snow dog Conall, in slow motion.

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.

26 thoughts on “Wolf Moon”

  1. Beautiful thoughts and pictures. I’m sorry for the coyote. He is lonely. He might also be hungry, poor guy. That was a legit conversation, too. More and more I wonder what to make of people. Anyway, taking advice from dogs and following their lead is often a good direction to take. ❤

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  2. For someone with nothing to say, you sure do say it well! The beautiful photos were a bonus. Conall always seems to be smiling and Finn radiates pragmatism–Conall’s in the way? Well okay, I’ll just turn around. 🙂 Also love the idea of a wolf moon. Gratuitous killing? That seems to be a human thing. Like the world isn’t hard enough as it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Susan!

      Finn is indeed pragmatic, thank goodness, since he’s half Conall’s size. Lucky for him Conall is very gentle and forgiving (and younger) because Finn can push it sometimes!

      As for humans, lately I seem less and less a fan. Call me Ms. Misanthrope.

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  3. I had to laugh. For a person with nothing to say – you said a lot. I loved your photos and the info on the wolf moon, which I got to see quite well here in Arkansas. The coyote video I enjoyed. It has been a while since I heard the sounds of coyotes here. Nice post and I enjoyed the Idaho scenery and your narration of your adventures through the snow.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There are days when the words just ain’t there. And on those days, I exercise more, meditate more.

    As for the atypical weather, it’s different here on the East Coast where the extremes rarely visit. But even we notice the changes, as it has been a very mild winter by any standards. We had a snowfall over the past two days that was melted away by the sun on the third day. The cold’s not sticking around.

    I can’t even talk about the coyotes. It infuriates me. People justify their ignorance in the dumbest and meanest of ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s that cruelty toward animals, and other humans, that seems so pervasive and out-in-the-open, especially here in the West but across the country recently that too often leaves me without words. Except, maybe, gobsmacked. I keep wondering, “How did we get to such a horribly low point?”

      Exercise is my best escape, allowing me to be happily distracted while endorphins flow. Wish I could indulge in that ten hours a day, but alas, my body would protest. And while I don’t meditate in any formal sense of the word, it has occurred to me that my almost-daily routine of taking photos and then editing them on my computer, on a large screen, is a sort of meditation, a focus on the nature, dogs, sunsets, and scenes I encounter during the day, reliving those brief moments enjoyed earlier in the day while editing, preserving them as memories to be savored again. A sort of “being in the now” several times over!

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      1. The desensitized nature of so many individuals does give me pause. People behave as if life is a video game. And I do not speak of kids, but rather, adults.

        It’s muy importante to find yourself in the now. I do snippets. When I have the moment to spare, I try and use it peacefully. Come back to myself and get centered.

        Meditation is whatever achieves peace of mind for the individual. I’ve gotten into playing chess again and believe it or not, it really puts me in that place same as if I would have closed my eyes and hummed for twenty minutes.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s quite a sunset. The other day, I was driving down the highway and saw a shocking sunset. I didn’t photograph it and now I wish I did. I’m really bad at pulling out my phone when I see someting interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to be, but now I fear I err on the side of making sure my phone is handing and taking too many photos! But, viewing and editing them on my computer is soothing and enjoyable, part of my daily routine now, whether I ever share them or not. When I die, though, whoever has to clean up my digital affairs will surely say, “Whoa, she had a shit-load of photos!”

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    1. Thanks, Andrea. Me, too. It’s senseless murder (mostly done for thrill) which has the unintended result of actually increasing coyote populations as litter sizes increase when there are fewer adults.

      A while ago I read a fascinating article about a wildlife biologist in Washington state. He’s Black. His focus became coyotes in the urban environment. He said he felt a certain kinship with them because of pervasive prejudice toward them. “I liken [coyotes in urban areas] to the experience of being black in America.” Made complete sense to me. The link: https://magazine.washington.edu/feature/ecologist-christopher-schell-sees-himself-in-the-science/

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  6. I think you did find something to say! On Coyotes..I may have mentioned it earlier but we have been experiencing lots of coyotes around our house and neighborhood. Toby alerted us by his ferocious barking (on the back of the couch safe and sound) one morning at daybreak as a coyote had a feast of fresh meat next door in our neighbors overgrown (we call it a wildlife preserve). He stepped out onto our driveway carrying a medium sized animal with white fur and loped down the street and back to his den. It was amazing, exciting and disturbing. Later we took a peek of the carnage and found the intestine of said animal had been pulled out and left along with bloody bits of white fur. According the Fish and Wildlife 42% of urban coyote diet consist of cats. We’ve had small dogs snatched out of fenced backyards as Coyote’s can jump 6 feet or so. No one is shooting them here. Just keep your pets safe. When we take Toby out to pee in the front lawn in the dark we now take a “Coyote Torch” (flashlight) to survey the property before we head out.
    Loved the slow motion run and the info on the Wolf Moon.
    shelle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, absolutely, one needs to figure out how to keep their pets safe from natural predators. Glad Toby alerts you, and that you utilize a “coyote torch” to make sure he can pee in peace! Same applies here, which is why my yard is fenced and I don’t have cats. The more territory we humans claim for our homes and towns, the more coyotes will find it necessary to search there for food. (And don’t get me started on people who leave pet food and/or garbage out, attracting coyotes, bears, foxes.) I just wish people here understood that when you kill a few coyotes, those remaining respond to the population “stress” by having larger litters and increasing their numbers.

      Glad you enjoyed Conall in slomo 🙂

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  7. Rationalizations about coyotes being pests are baloney, especially in rural areas. They’re killed for sport, plain and simple. It’s easy enough to protect livestock from them using non-lethal means. I’d go on, but I know I’d be preaching to the choir!

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