Harvest Moon (Full Moon September 2008)

The Farmer’s Almanac has this to say about our moon this month:

This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice the chief Indian staples are now ready for gathering.

Glancing the various Native American moon names for September, you can easily note how many tribes in the Americas referenced harvest, the ripeness of corn, the changing of leaves, and the drying of grass.

If anything, this moon feels to me like the threshold between Summer and Autumn.  I love the way the humid Arkansas air begins to dry out this time of year.  The yellowing of black walnut leaves and the reddening of the sumac leaves indicate that the trees have begun to feel the changes as well.

Two years ago when I worked in downtown Bentonville, right off the square where Sam Walton opened his first 5 and Dime store.  The tiny little downtown area serves as the home of many old black walnut trees, and the dropped their fruit in abundance that September.  I spent every break and lunch hour wandering the streets with bags, picking up as many of the green-husked nuts as I could in the little time I had.

I found the husking and shelling of black walnuts far more difficult than I ever imagined, and unfortunately had a hard time processing all of the nuts I brought home that year.  Later I discovered some wonderful advice on processing walnuts at this site.  If I ever find myself surrounded by walnuts again, I hope to put those ideas into practice for myself.

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