I have long had a fixation with the traditional names of the various full moons. I don't remember when I first discovered that there was a special name for each, but their individuality and descriptive quality has long appealed to the storyteller in me.
Tonight is the Full Cold Moon, also called the Long Nights Moon, as it is the full moon closest to the Winter Solstice, when the nights are truly at their longest.
Last night as the nearly full moon rose up over our snowy landscape, I think you could nearly have taken a photograph without a flash, it was so bright and clear outside. The moon shadows were crisp against the snow and the bare tree branches looked like black lace against the glowing sky. It was truly one of those magical nights.
I get to see a lot of late night scenes at this time of year. Over the winter we use a wood-fired boiler as supplemental heat for our house. The boiler stands sentry in the back corner of the packing shed (about 70 yards from the house) and the water lines run underground up to the sunroom. It is a pretty great system, no risk of house fire (makes the insurance guys happy), or dragging wood through the house. But it does require a late night (9 or 10pm) stoking to keep things warm. So every night, just as I am starting to get sleepy and thinking about going to bed, I have to get up, put on my coveralls (sometimes over my pajamas), boots, hat and gloves and trudge down the hill in the dark to feed the fire. I never think fondly of this chore from within the house, but once I am outside, the complaints are usually silenced.
Unless there is a storm blowing, it is often a beautiful time to be out. The winds are still, the skies are clear and the stars are bright. Sean thinks I'm crazy to go out without a flashlight, but I never use one and I don't turn on the outside lights. There is so much to see beyond those tiny circles of light. Blue loves this nightly ritual. She leaps and frolics in the snow like a kid, all the while watching for rabbits or deer to chase, after which she always returns to my side, well pleased with herself for protecting me from the wild beasts.
And when we finish our nighttime chores, we return to the warm glow of the house. I get a hot cup of tea, Blue gets a "cookie" and we all settle in for another cozy winter's night on the farm.