By Susie Berta
Are you a lullaby person? I am. I’ve collected, listened to and sung them all my life. Most folks have memories of lullabies their momma sang, and you have gifted your little ones with lullabies, too. I did. I even wrote one for my goddaughter when she was born. Among my favorites is James Taylor’s, Sweet Baby James.
Ever notice how many poems, stories, songs, superstitions and lullabies have to do with the moon — that mysterious, romantic orb that glows and makes us marvel, wonder and wish? I could start a list here, but it would never end. Google “moon tunes” and enjoy.
Here’s a sweet superstition from What They Say in New England: A Book of Signs, Sayings, and Superstitions (1896) by Clifton Johnson:
“Look at the moon some night and say:
I see the moon; the moon sees me.
The moon sees somebody I want to see.
Then name the person you wish to see, and in a day or two you will see that person.”
Isn’t that just dear? I love that. At least, the fanciful, romantic part of me loves it. But, good luck with that if you’re a stickler for reality. Whatever helps you sleep at night, I say. It’s like making a wish over a birthday cake. Could happen. Chances are slim. I wouldn’t bet the farm, but why throw cold water, either? Let it be. Enjoy some optimism and a brief romance. Leave yourself open.
I am neither astronomer nor astrologer. I’m doing well to remember what rotates around what. But the graceful moon hanging up above possesses exceptional cosmic power and reminds us that there is something greater than ourselves. When you’re too big for your own britches, go to the ocean at night, look up into the heavenly vault above you. Behold the moon and stars. Try to deny your smallness. You might get goosebumps. You might sing a lullaby. Respectful silence is humbling, too. I guarantee it will move you. If not, I don’t think I want to know you.
So what’s with the moon, anyway? She is no one-trick pony. She is a shiny jewel. Sometimes she doesn’t shine at all.
The moon has power. In her predictable cycles, at turns she is brand new; she waxes, shines full, wanes and disappears entirely, and starts all over. With each phase, her effects on the earth constantly modulate and change.
Gardeners, farmers and fishermen often put stock in the moon’s phases. Some of them swear by them. Others don’t. You do or you don’t. The moon doesn’t wait for our opinions or beliefs. She does her thing regardless, in silence, but not imperceptibly. It’s up to us to notice or not, to perceive a shift or not, to be aware of her influence on the planet and on us. Or not. Either you are open to her effects or you aren’t. Go check out a farmer’s almanac or stand on the beach at high tide during the next full moon and get back to me.
It is undeniable that the moon is in a formidable push-pull relationship with planet earth. You can’t argue with the tides and their clockwork rising, falling, rocking back and forth on an eternal cosmic seesaw. The moon and the earth are recreating in their gravitational playground and humans are merely their cheering section.
Why do I keep referring to the moon in female terms? And what of that famous “Man in the Moon?” I don’t mean to eclipse the men (see what I did there?). One reason we consider the moon a feminine entity is that one full cycle takes approximately one month. Please refer to your middle school health class or check with Dr. Google if you need further illumination (dang, I did it there, too).
The “Man in the Moon” is the visual effect of light and shadow from the moon’s lakes and geography that we view from our Northern Hemisphere and ascribe to the features of a man’s face. Georges Méliès, pioneer of early cinematic special effects, stuck a rocket in the “Man in the Moon’s” eye in his innovative 1902 film, Voyage to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune). It inspired a 2007 book and 2011 movie about a fictional boy named Hugo Cabret and his relationship with a toy maker, inspired by the actual life of Méliès, himself. (I recommend both!)
James Taylor likes the idea that his latest album and book debuted under a waxing moon. The waxing moon, if you are into this notion, is optimism, momentum, the good stuff you’ve got going that’s headed for the even better stuff that’s coming. What’s coming is a big ole full moon, and by full moon I don’t mean a sophomoric prank out a fraternity window. I mean a monolithic moon in the sky, at her maximum glow and fecundity. Neither star nor planet, she is an ancient ball that mesmerizes, cheers, frightens, thrills, rolls tides and calms seas.
The Harvest Moon is the first full moon in September, when many farmers follow their almanacs and either plant or gather crops. It’s the full moon when scary creatures in horror stories show up in movies and books. It can also be a quick trip to Crazy Town for people who are too sensitive to the ethers. Not making fun, just sayin’. Full moon monsters are utter fiction but if, at the next full moon, your fingernails grow sharp and long, you grow fur on your body, and sprout pointy snout, teeth and ears, for the love of Elvis, you should see a doctor for that.
In September 2020, the first full moon, the Harvest Moon, or Corn Moon, so named by Native Americans because it marked the time of the corn harvest, was Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 1:23 a.m.
If you want to know what all of September looks like, you can find the moon’s schedule online: https://www.almanac.com/astronomy/moon/calendar/zipcode/30263/2020-09 . Gardening/farming-wise go here: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/calendar/gardening/ .
Meanwhile, the phase of the waxing moon appeals to me the most. It’s the sweet promise I like. It’s positivity and possibility shining in the sky with the potential for so much more. And if James Taylor thinks it is a swell time to debut an album or a book, (or an article) who am I to argue with Sweet Baby James?
Susie Berta has many creative pursuits, including music, art, writing, cooking, gardening, entertaining and decorating. She has lived in Newnan with her husband, Rick, since 1977. They have raised two boys and have two grandchildren. She is retired from a long career as a vocalist/performer, having sung for many years in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus, as a staff singer at St. Mark UMC in Atlanta, and in many other venues, in addition to her one-woman show, “All Grown Up,” at the Rialto Theater in Atlanta. As an empty nester, she returned to school in 2003 and earned a BFA in art at Atlanta College of Art and SCAD Atlanta. She is now pursuing her passion for writing and is currently working on her memoir, The Veterinarian’s Wife.