Full Mating Moon
Full Mating Moon 2009: The Flower Moon
Full Mating Moon 2010: Mercurial
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This month is usually called the Mating Moon or the Flower Moon, but this year it came late enough in the season that it is really the Green Month. Each day's walk in the woods and parks near my house is a study in greens. The grass is tall and green in lawns and along trails and so are the weeds on the side of the road. The maples and alders have leafed out and their bright green contrasts with the dark green of conifers on the slopes of the West Hills. Street trees and the canopy above trails filter the light into a soft, glowing green everywhere I walk or drive. The new growth on conifers is making their tips sparkle, a sight that is especially brilliant on a decorative cedar right outside my front room window.
In my calendar summer starts with May Day but that requires a real change in how we define the seasons. We've had record rainfall in the last few weeks in Portland so many of my friends are complaining and wondering if summer will ever come. If you define summer as sunny, warm and dry then you can't possibly see summer starting in the beginning of May. In my view of the Wheel of the Year, though, Summer is the season of vegetative growth and that can happen whether the rains stay until July or we get beautiful sunny days in May. To me, "the heat of the summer" is really the beginning of Autumn, the season of ripening and harvest. I'll keep the rain if it means green trees, green grass and all the other lush greenery we have around here.
Lush greenery is something we have a whole lot of in this climate and I've been noticing all the nooks and crannies of my suburban neighborhood that are full of life. I am re-reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books and thinking a lot about the episode in the fourth book where Percy, his hero companion Annabeth and their satyr friend Grover finally fulfill Grover's life mission of finding the lost god Pan. Pan is the god of the wild places and they find him deep in the caves of Carlsbad Caverns. "It is one of the last wild places." he tells them, "My realm above is gone, I'm afraid. Only pockets remain. Tiny pieces of life." He goes on to tell Grover that his spirit, that of the wild, is so faded and broken that it can not be carried by a god any longer, but must be carried by each satyr, hero and human. "You must tell everyone you meet: if you would find Pan, take up Pan's spirit. Remake the wild, a little at a time, each in your own corner of the world. You can not wait for anyone else, not even a god, to do that for you." As I look around me during this Green Month I see the places where Pan's spirit still lingers. The strip of trees and shrubs behind my apartment, overgrown edge of my parents' yard below the lilacs, the median of the freeway full of cherry trees, roses and wildflowers - it may just be a few square feet, but at this time of year the greenery is greening and the plants are growing. The wild is still here, just at a slightly different scale.
What green is greening in your neck of the woods? What are your favorite plants of this season? What is your definition of summer? Where do you find Pan's spirit?