Is Anything Finer Than the Moon in June?

On June 24, the night of the Strawberry Moon, I slid open the screen door that leads to my second-story deck and settled into a comfortable chair.  It was to be the final “super moon” of 2021, which occurs when the full moon is closest to Earth and appears bigger and brighter than other full moons. This happens because the moon rotates around our planet in an ellipse rather than a perfect circle and thus occasionally gets really close. We won’t see another super moon until June 14, 2022.  June’s full moon is often called the Strawberry Moon not because it’s red, but because June is the month when strawberries become ripe in many parts of the country.

I live just a stone’s throw from City Lake, on a steep road that ends in the water. Living in a hole surrounded by woods means I don’t get to see the full moon when it first pops up over the horizon and is at its biggest and most impressive. The best spot I’ve found for doing that is the parking lot of the old Howard Johnson Motel (now the Baymont Inn), up on the hill where I-40 intersects Highway 70N at exit 290.

But there’s something to be said for patience, which I try to practice every time I sit on my deck and wait for the moon. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I check e-mails or scroll through Facebook. I didn’t do any of those things while waiting for the moon last week. I turned off all the house lights, inside and out, and put my book and my phone out of reach. In the fading light of dusk, I could just make out a jon boat trolling for whatever it is that fishermen troll for in City Lake. I heard Canada geese squawk as they settled in for the night. Across the way, a dog barked. Other than that, the night was almost eerily quiet. Too late for lawnmowers or weed eaters or kids on bicycles. Too early in the season for Fourth of July firecrackers, thank goodness.

Perhaps, like me, my neighbors were silently looking up, waiting for the show.

The full moon is different in summer. Like most other things in the hot months, it’s not in a hurry. Let the day linger, it seems to say. Take your time. Pour yourself a glass of lemonade. No need to put on a jacket or gloves or a hat while you’re waiting for me. A summer nightgown is the perfect attire.

That evening, a brisk breeze had blown away the humidity. The gigantic pine tree in my front yard–a tree that 40 years ago was, I’m told, a six-foot tall Christmas tree–swayed and creaked ever so slightly in the wind. Lightning bugs danced above the freshly-mown grass. One by one, the stars blinked on.

And then it happened.

That big old Strawberry Moon, encircled by a perfect halo, rose above the tree line. As if on cue, the bullfrogs in City Lake began their deep-throated thrumming. Kamala stopped her constant back-and-forth, I’m-sure-there-are-wild-hogs-in-these-woods pacing and laid her head on my knee.

And I thought that perhaps it would be a good thing to trudge down to the basement and drag the futon mattress up two flights of stairs so that I could sleep outside under this amazing moon with this amazing breeze caressing me. But then I thought about how heavy the mattress is and how I’d need to gather up sheets and a pillow. I thought about dew and about the possibility of rain and about mosquitoes and about the wasps whose ever-growing nest I hadn’t yet knocked down from the eaves. And I decided to sleep inside.

Ten days later, it’s a choice I still regret.

(July 3, 2021)