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Around the Bluhmin’ Town

6/29/16

Judy Bluhm

Something very rare happened last week. If you were lucky enough to look up towards the heavens after dark on June 20, you witnessed a “strawberry moon.”  Yes, the summer solstice marks the longest day of the year, but not in about seventy years have we witnessed a full “strawberry” moon on the exact day of the summer solstice. And it seems unlikely this event will happen again until 2095! So what is a strawberry moon? The early Native American tribes marked the full moon in June as the beginning of strawberry picking season. In other words, get ready to eat strawberry shortcake.

The summer solstice is iconic…a day with time-honored history rife with pagan celebrations and all things Stonehenge. Well, this summer solstice did get a number of parties going full steam, but at least no one was pushed off pyramids like the Mayans did. Historians like to point to Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in Wilshire, England as evidence that ancient humans used the June solstice as a way to organize their calendars. Some believe that the unique configuration of stones was erected around 2500 BC in order to establish the date of the summer solstice, which would be the starting point of the summer.

In China, the summer solstice was celebrated as a way to honor the Earth, femininity and the “yin” forces. According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of the summer solstice. In North America, Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the sun. Today in northern Europe and Scandinavian countries, they hold Midnight Sun festivals and feasts. It seems that people around the world like to celebrate the “longest day of summer.” Unless, of course, you are burning up in the inferno called Arizona.  Not too many folks can be found sitting in the parks, sipping wine and listening to music when it is triple digits!

Full moons have a long history of bringing out the “weird” in people, animals, and nature. Nurses and doctors claim that there are more “strange” emergency room visits during a full moon. There have been reports of bizarre behaviors, mental breakdowns, crimes, homicides, and suicides committed during a full moon. Pregnant women often believe that they will deliver their babies during a full moon. Many fertility experts consider it “good luck” if a woman is ovulating when the moon is completely round. Not sure if we should believe any of this!

A man in Anthem emailed me to say that his wife cooks better when there is a full moon. I have been wondering about this, because in everything I have read about lunar cycles nothing has been mentioned about improved culinary skills. Or, maybe this man just likes to eat more during a full moon. There is a band of Aborigines in Australia that claim their entire clan becomes “ravishingly hungry” during a full moon. So perhaps appetites “expand” like the moon? Hmm…I must do more research on this little morsel.

I love a full moon because it allows us to see the wonders of the night. We can spy on our horses, strolling around in the glow of a moonlit night. We might be fortunate to see a great horned owl sitting majestically on top of a telephone pole. Javalinas tentatively walk through the arroyos and the coyotes sit and howl. Oh, and let’s not forget that humans claim to be more romantic during a full moon and flower and wine sales increase (yes, this is true) to prove it.

Feeling a bit like a lunatic these days? No, excuse me, Dear Readers, I meant to say “lunar-tic.” Yes, it seems this past summer solstice did not disappoint. Mood swings, strange happenings, tempers flaring, romantic inklings, UFO sightings, werewolves, babies being born, animal bites, and coyotes howling were but a few of the reported “events” that marked a once-in-a-lifetime moonscape. And since most of us will never witness a full moon on the summer solstice again, happily we only have to wait about thirty days for a familiar circle of light to shine down in all its glory.

What to hone in your cooking skills? Throw out the cookbooks. Wait until the moon is a perfectly round ball. Want to fall in love? Just wait for the “lunar effects” to kick in. Need a reason to party? A full moon is coming. Acting badly? Blame it on the “fool moon.” Lunatics or “lunar-tics?” This week, celebrate the wonders of the moon with a big bowl of strawberries.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.