The Harvest Moon was obscured by clouds Monday night, but last night it was hanging in the sky, round and majestic, although it had a ring around it. We have always thought that a ring around the moon foretold of a change in the weather. (Remember Longfellow’s “Wreck of the Hesperus?” One line went, “Last night the moon had a golden ring, and tonight no moon we see.”)
The weather is changing. Although it is still mild, the breeze that is scattering autumn leaves through the air has an ominous note that whispers of colder weather to come. The leaves are turning color from day to day now. Yellow poplars stand out amid the green trees on Pilot Knob, and the underbrush shows the deep red of the sumac and sourwood. Dogwood is donning scarlet robes, while the beeches are slowly turning to their bronzy-gold.
The Harvest Moon has always held an important place in our lives. Early farmers looked forward to this happening as it gave them extra time to bring in their crops. Before the days of farm tractors and headlights, it meant there was no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise.
For several nights after the Harvest Moon, farmers could work in their fields bringing in their crops by moonlight. Native Americans used this time to harvest the chief Indian staples—pumpkins, corn, squash, beans and wild rice. They also called this full moon “Wine Moon,” “Singing Moon,” and “Elk Call Moon.”
Farmer’s Almanac asked web visitors to choose a new name for this full moon, and the winner was “Full Pumpkin Moon.” I still like the name Harvest Moon because it evokes so many nostalgic memories of the past. I remember singing, “When I see that southern moon, I want to croon a lonely tune . . .”
One of the most popular songs about the Harvest Moon was written in the early 1900s by Jack Norworth and his wife Nora Bays. As most moon songs are, it was a romantic tune.
SHINE ON, HARVEST MOON
The night was mighty dark, so you could hardly see,
For the moon refused to shine.
Couple sitting underneath a willow tree,
For love they did pine.
Little maid was kinda ‘fraid of darkness
So she said, “I guess I’ll go.”
Boy began to sigh, looked up in the sky,
And told the moon his little tale of woe.
Oh, shine on, shine on, harvest moon
Up in the sky,
I ain’t had no lovin’
Since January, April, June or July.
You would have to be an old-timer to remember this.
Our full moon harvest was pretty skimpy this year. I rambled through the garden gleaning what was left—a few scrubby ripe tomatoes, two green ones, a head of purple cabbage and some sweet peppers. It is all over until next spring, when the cycle starts all over again.
The Harvest Moon was time for our “play parties” when I was young. We “gathered up” a group of young people for our ring games, built a fire, and frolicked under the full moon. Sadly, the ring games are a thing of the past, remembered only by a few old-timers who relive those golden nights in their minds.
We had our own version of a Harvest Moon celebration Saturday night when we hosted a pig roast for the family and friends. It was an authentic roast with pork, turkey and venison buried deep underground and cooked for over 20 hours. With the covered dishes that were brought in, we had a feast.
Harvest time is a time to rejoice, and to thank the Bountiful Giver for His many blessings. In Deuteronomy 8-10 we read, “When thou hast eaten and art full, then shalt thou bless the Lord thy God for the good land which He hath given thee.” Everything that we have is a gift from our Heavenly Father, and we should never fail to thank Him for our blessings.
With this season over, we begin looking and planning ahead for next spring’s crops. Morton Talbott of Charleston had a query about pineapple sage last week, and we got an informative answer from Judi Ballard of Lewisburg. She writes, “Pineapple sage is a type of salvia which can be grown in the garden or potted. I have used it only in containers on my porch for the lovely pineapple scent. I understand that if you put it in the garden, it will grow into a tall, bush-like plant that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
“It is edible and is said to make great teas, a flavorful addition to pork dishes, fruit salads, etc. The flowers may be used in salads for flavor and colorful accents.” Now that sounds like an herb worth knowing.
Now we have a request from Gladys Hampton of Hartford who is trying to find some old-fashioned touch-me-not seeds. I know what the wild touch-me-nots look like, with their orange or yellow bloom, but she says these are multicolored. Can anyone help?
Some of us are in the harvest time of our life, and I found a prayer written by St. Augustine that is a real comfort. “O, Lord, our God, under the shadow of Thy wings let us hope. Thou wilt support us, both when little, and even to gray hairs. When our strength is of Thee, it is strength; but, when our own, it is feebleness. We return unto Thee, O Lord, that from their weariness our souls may rise toward Thee; for with Thee is refreshment and true strength.”
UNDER THE HARVEST MOON
By Carl Sandburg
Under the harvest moon
When the soft silver
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Under the summer roses,
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.