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  • Monique Sliedrecht

Full Moon, Cold Moon

I awoke early this morning and got up in the darkness several hours before sunrise. There was a chill in the air when I made my way out into the corridor. As I walked toward the kitchen I caught a glimpse of a glowing night sky through the windows, the trunks of the trees defined by a silvery light, their shadows stretching over the frosty land.

I made my coffee still half asleep, accidentally pouring the boiling water into the milk jug, but I caught myself before it was too late. Shivering from the cold I went to get an extra pair of woolly socks and a jumper.

When I came back, I placed the full carafe, mug and milk jug on my small round wooden tray and brought it into the lounge. While I let the coffee steep for a while, I set myself the task of lighting the fire using the few logs I had left in the basket. The room was aglow with the moons bright rays which were streaming in through the windows. It was a fleeting reminder to me that it was time to get new curtains up, but for now I was happy to be greeted in this way, while the rest of the world was fast asleep.

Somehow I felt comforted by the moon on this early frosty start to the day, my heart welcoming it as though it was a companion, a soulmate. Fully understanding. Fully present. Absorbing my predawn musings, longings and complaints.

While the newly lit fire sparked and crackled into flames, I settled in my chair with a blanket wrapped around my legs, and pulled out my notebook and pen to write for a while, then drift, and dream….

I suddenly became fully present again, startled by the flutter and cries of not one, not two, but four pheasants flying across the neighbouring field. ( Four calling birds.... 🎶 )

I don't think I've seen that before!

I wrote some more.

Every once in a while I looked out of the window to notice the moon had shifted in the sky. Sometimes it was covered temporarily by the swiftly moving cumuli and then it reappeared again, loyal and bright.

As the hour rolled on, the rising sun began to catch the edges of the clouds infusing them with a lustrous radiance.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, December’s moon is called the ‘Cold Moon’ - a Mohawk name that conveys the frigid conditions of this time of year, when cold weather truly begins to grip us.

It certainly has gripped me! With the extra low temperatures and exorbitant heating costs, it is a challenge to find sufficient ways to keep warm. But I like a challenge. (I only try not to think about how many more weeks of winter we have left!)

This full moon has also been called the 'Long Night Moon' (Mohican), as it rises during one of the longest nights of the year, drawing near to the winter solstice. This name is doubly fitting because December’s full moon has a high trajectory in the sky, which means that it shines above the horizon for a longer period of time than most full moons.

That’s nice to know. It means it will be with me throughout this early morning, rather than dipping away before daylight comes.

Apparently this year, December's full moon met the planet Mars! In most of North America, Europe, and North Africa the moon could be seen drifting very closely to Mars and then obscured it entirely. (This astronomical event is called a 'lunar occultation.')

I am reminded of a poem I read once by Mary Oliver. I get up from under my blanket to search the shelves in the corridor for the book of poetry and find it resting against my latest volume of recipes. On the way back to my chair, I grab another log from the porch. The wind sends a chill through me and I close the door quickly. With my book of poems in one hand and the log in the other, I hurriedly return to 'the warm room' and throw the chunk of wood onto the open fire. It ignites quickly.

I read the poem slowly, grateful for the luxury and comfort of these early wee hours of the day, just me and the Long Night Moon.

Moon and Water

I wake and spend

the last hours

of darkness

with no one

but the moon.

She listens

to my complaints

like the good

companion she is

and comforts me surely

with her light.

But she, like everyone,

has her own life.

So finally I understand

that she has turned away,

is no longer listening.

She wants me

to refold myself

into my own life.

And, bending close,

as we all dream of doing,

she rows with her white arms

through the dark water

which she adores.

-Mary Oliver-

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