During the first half of the current lunar cycle, spring sleepily began. This period began with a new moon on March 20 – also the day of the vernal equinox – and continued to the full moon of April 4. In many – maybe most – cultures moon cycles are named. Sometimes it is the new moon that is named (members of the Iroquois Confederacy,) but we are more familiar with the naming of the full moons. Depending on the culture, or the era, a variety of moon names have been used. For instance, April’s moon might be known as the full planters, egg, seed, or wildcat moon. This year, the neo-Pagan, full Awakening Moon, seems most apt.
Lunar cycles, marked by the naming of a moon, and seasonal holidays are related to the happenings of the season. Maine’s northeast Abenaki people call April’s full moon the Sugar Maker Moon; and, members of the Cherokee Nation held its First New Moon of Spring festival in March to celebrate the resurgence of growth and community. And, so too, the Christian celebration of Easter, which occurs on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the spring equinox, is at its core related to the newness and restarting of a season and a new year of growth.
Like a teenager – who when the morning window brightens, turns over and tucks their head under the covers – spring has been slow to emerge and awaken from under earth’s blanket of snow.
During the past two weeks of this lunar cycle, evidence of winter – such as the March 27 snow that layered the island under a couple of inches of light batting, and the several sightings of a snowy owl over the weekend of April 3rd – continued. However, in that same period leading up to the full Awakening Moon, signs of spring were also evident. Around March 25th the second of the Osprey pair arrived and are now actively attending to the nest platform at the BI Power Co. A tentative chorusing of spring peepers was noted on April 1st. And, of course, the spring migration of birds results in a great overlap of “winter” and “summer” species on the Island. For instance a flock of twelve – fifteen Snow geese have been reported from “the plains” and are headed to the Arctic grasslands; while Tree swallows have arrived in a swirl for their summer nesting, from perhaps as far away as central America.
The sounds of the seasons were also overlapping in late March. The low booming echo of winter’s pond-ice cracking, (because warming temperatures cause the ice to expand) is a wonderful soundscape on a sunny morning, when simultaneously, the season ushers in the summer players of Eastern phoebe, American woodcock, and American egret. All of these multi-sensed observations have been noted and recorded around the island between the last new moon of winter and the first full moon of spring – the first half of the lunar cycle of the Full Awakening Moon.
Who knows what will come your way if you are observant during the last half of the season of the Awakening Moon. Perhaps you’ll observe the: vibrancy of lichens, unusualness of skunk cabbage, appearance of eels, or the rare flitting of Blue-gray gnatcatchers or Bluebirds?