My 2009 Blue Moon Day…
My basket and I flowed smoothly around the grocery store, like inner-tubes on a uninhibited creek. Blackberries are on sale for 67 cents a container.
“Excuse me,” a Caribbean accent greeted me. “Could you tell me how to tell when blackberries are good or not? Are they bad when they turn red?”
“Well,” I said, pulling a container over and opening it. “When blackberries are still red, they aren’t ripe yet. But do you see how the berry cells in this one have begun to shrivel and collapse? That’s when the cell is no longer firm and has gone too soft. And here? See it’s also starting to mold.”
She thanked me, and I flowed on. I’ve been asked a lot of things, but that was new. I rounded another corner to find a slightly harried mother making a bee-line for me.
“Excuse me – do you know where I can find the living lettuce that comes in a ball shape inside a plastic container?” I know exactly what she is talking about. My sister-in-law likes to buy that. “Umm, hmmm. I believe if you look over in the corner over there where you find the bagged salad and organic collection, you will find it there.” She looked over to find her husband there with it in hand. I flowed on.
Truly, I do wear a psychic sign or something. I’ve never worked in many places, but this happens to me all the time. I round another corner.
“It’s really rare and only happens like every 37.5 years or so…” I look up as an employee at a tasting station educated his co-worker and smile. I already know exactly what he’s talking about, though I’m not sure where his figures came from.
I swing by the freezer section and try to find some pomegranate frozen yogurt. It’s a fruitless endeavor, but I’ve been craving it ever since being introduced to YogurBerry in AZ on my recent trip.
“And it only happens like once every 20 years!” I glance around and notice a lady on her cell phone walking past. What a surreal shopping experience this is turning out to be.
“This is such a special New Year’s Eve – it’s a Blue Moon AND a lunar eclipse too!” “It’s a once in a life-time event!” “It only happens once every 54 years!”
And so it went….. But I was good. In spite of knowing something about all this, I did not stop to interject or correct anyone.
There are always either 13 full moons or 13 new moons from winter solstice to winter solstice. And it is true that Dec 31st will be the 2nd full moon in December. However being a 2nd full moon in a month does not necessarily make a true “Blue Moon.”
In fact, the idea that two full moons within the same month making a Blue Moon, is actually only as recent as 1946 when Sky and Telescope Magazine mis-interpreted the Maine Farmer’s Almanac. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, a Blue Moon is actually the 3rd full moon within a season of four full moons. A correction was published, but not until some years down the road and the mistake has stuck ever since.
Which means, tonight is only the first full moon of the season and cannot qualify as a Blue Moon.
Some folks say they really find the Farmer’s Almanac definition confusing. I believe this probably has something to do with the fact our society is not as dependant on seasons and moon reckoning, much less traditional or even old-fashioned farming methods. Essentially, seasons were divided by their full moons. The early full moon, the mid full moon and the later full moon. During times of need, full moons could be useful to extend work hours, though certainly there were superstitions about full moons as well. Still, any season generally has 3 full moons. But on the occasion that there came to be 4 full moons, the 3rd full moon would be considered the extra full moon. The Blessed Moon, Hunter’s Moon, Harvest Moon, etc.. Although technically the Harvest Moon usually ocurrs in September and the Hunter’s Moon in October and refer to the appearance of the moon based on the length of time the moon is bright in the sky. Still an extra full moon was a blessing. One more night of light during the season. After all, you were only as abundant as you could work for it.
2009 is coming to a close. It’s been a tough year, but I’m not in a hurry to forget it. I think tonight, in the spirit of the eclipse, I will do my best to remember everything. Good and “bad.” For I believe each and every moment had its purpose. And I don’t want to lose it.