Our local nature conservancy sponsored a “snow moon hike” this past Saturday evening. It was the first time I’d ever heard this of this particular term for a full moon, and had to reach for the Old Farmer’s Almanac in order to learn the following:
“The explanation behind February’s full Moon name is a fairly straightforward one: it’s known as the Snow Moon due to the typically heavy snowfall that occurs in February. On average, February is the United States’ snowiest month, according to data from the National Weather Service. In the 1760s, Captain Jonathan Carver, who had visited with the Naudowessie (Dakota), wrote that the name used for this period was the Snow Moon, “because more snow commonly falls during this month than any other in the winter.”
Saturday proved to be a day of grey clouds and sleet, but, having made plans with friends and not wanting to disappoint, Scott and I tossed our snow shoes into the boot of the car and set off and the pre-arranged time of six in the evening. Bringing the sheep back into the barn had been a messy business, and they were wet and grumpy. The same could be said of the barn cats and the farm dog, Bowie. My flannel-lined jeans were caked with mud here and there, and their cuffs were still sodden from their barn-chore time, and the sky showed few signs of ever clearing enough to catch even a glimpse of the moon, but we persevered.
Our hosts had created a path through their pasture and woods, and the path was lit by votive candles in little paper bags. Our little group trudged through the deep snow, pausing every now and then to take measure of the sky, still hung with clouds. The moon had begun its rise, evidence of which laced each cloud in shades of silver. Off in the distance we could hear owls hooting and the rush of wind through pine trees.
The resident farm dog greeted us at the end of the walk, and we followed him back to the ‘cheerful bonfire gaily blazing away in the pasture. We stood huddled around this much-needed warmth, sipping warm cider, and chatting quietly. Suddenly, someone called out, “There she goes…” and we all turned towards her as she cleared the last bank of clouds and began to rise.
She was absolutely stunning, this snow moon.