February 23, 2013
The moon is given credit for everything from ocean tide to young people falling in love.
Man’s relationship with the soil has been long established and this is evident in old sayings and folklore. The same can be said for our fascination with the moon. With white settlers and the Native American Indians, the moon was, yes, fascination, and folklore; but it was indeed very essential and practical too. They were close to nature.
It is hard for us to conceive a world of natural timetable and calendar. It is difficult for us to remove all knowledge and exposure to man-made clocks and calendars. We are too dependent on these clocks, calendars, written print, radio, television and Internet to even fathom how the Native American needed and valued the moon.
What could the Indian have thought about the moon, other than no matter where his nomadic lifestyle took him, there were two constants in his life – the sun and the moon. The sun would come up and go down every day.
The moon would do the same, but it would go through phases. These were consistent changes every month.
This became a sense of clock and calendar to the Native American Indian. It was the best he had, and made in America. He didn’t need quartz, Seiko or Swiss movement to tell time and besides that just where was he supposed to be in the next ten minutes?
Did he worry about rush hour traffic or traffic jams? No, he didn’t have to worry about national debt, ulcers or welfare either – not a bad life. We thought we could improve on this and look at us now.
The whites took on a lot of the Indian customs and logic when they arrived here, because that’s what it took to survive in Ohio then. A lot of that logic was about the moon.
The Indians called the January moon the “cold” moon or “snow” moon. From Lake Erie to the Ohio River, we all know that this is a logical name, but we just don’t have to deal with it as did Indians or pioneers.
They didn’t have AEP, Columbia Gas, Walmart or condos in Florida. What they did have was a reverence for nature and their environment. They appreciated the cardinals, hawks, owls and mocking birds that stayed the winter with them.
In winter, I travel the woods every chance I get and it’s these little things that provoke thoughts that you just have to be there to experience and appreciate.
The January moon has been the time for stripping the tobacco leaves from the stalks that had been hung in the barn in September, for centuries. Of course, this is a conflict with a country boy’s need to be coon hunting, too and a real problem for “ol’ Blue.”
Today, most nature lovers probably can relate more to hiking or stargazing at the January moon.
The February moon or month has now become Valentine’s Day, President’s Day and Groundhog Day. This is somewhat of a “filling in the gap” month today.
The Pioneers considered this February moon to be winter half over. They would know how they were doing in February by how full was their cellar, hayloft and wood pile. The Indians called the February moon the Hunger Moon.
Early Buckeyes thought this to be the time to collect and boil sassafras bark and root. This would boil down into a tea tonic for whatever ailed you and serve as the first rite of spring.
My experience with this is that just the aroma of sassafras will conjure up thoughts of bliss and that is invigorating in itself. I think one of the best parts of logging is smelling fresh cut sassafras root along the drag road.
Next time we will discuss “The Many Moons of Ohio.”
Dudley Wooten can be reached at 740-820-8210 or by visiting wootenslandscaping.com.