Full moon: facts, fears

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The next full moon, in just a few days, will be the Harvest Moon, the most famous of all full moons, mainly because of the song.

All the full moons have names. There’s the Snow Moon, the Pink Moon, the Hunters’ Moon, just to name a few. Most of them also have an alternate name. These names were given to them by the Indians in the east coast area, and the early invaders from Europe picked them up.

I usually get first dibs at the moons because my job gets me up early, and the best time to see a full moon is the morning after it makes its official entrance. That morning, it will usually be over Wire Road, close to the Becketts’.

Some full moons appear to be bigger and nearer than others because of moisture in the air and distance, etc. Some seem kind of aloof and remote, unapproachable. Others, you could almost reach out and touch.

One time we were playing bridge with friends out on the northern edge of town.  A  little lane goes by the house and on up to the main road. We were leaving. The moon was about half up. It seemed to be sitting right where the little road goes into  the big one. Huge, and right there. We jokingly said  we might have to go another way.

Another particularly bright moon that I remember was probably a Harvest Moon.

It was in the summer before I would be a high school senior. I was driving back from a little courtin’ up at our neighboring town and passing by Cousin Hezzie’s pasture, which comes right up to the road. Just on the other side of the pasture is a gully, a canyon even. It’s not visible from the road. Most people, even community people, don’t even know it’s there. I knew because of the times me’n Ross had hunted around there … back in the days when you could hunt almost anywhere, no permission needed, written or otherwise. Besides, they were all kinfolks.

Anyway, the night was absolutely clear, except…there was one round, fuzzy, friendly-looking cloud hanging like a blip right over the gully. The full moon shining on it made it sparkle. The sight has stuck with me all these eons.

Now, while we’re on the subject of full moons, everybody knows that a full  moon brings out the worst in Lon Chaney Jr. Ordinarily, he’s a nice, well-mannered, intelligent man. But a full moon can turn him into somebody you just don’t want to know. Hair starts growing on the back of his hands. His eye teeth get longer, his nose starts to look funny, his fingernails turn into claws. It’s really something to see.

Now, my question is – and this is supposed to be a community of intellectuals, after all – does Lon have to actually see the full moon, or is just the fact that it’s there trigger this allergic reaction?

I know one thing, Lon: you made that walk home after the midnight show at the hallowed Lamar Theater (just up the street from the Mule Barn) a scary thing. There’s a valley between town and home that brother Jack and I called the Valley of the Shadow.

It’s just a little branch bottom between the Strawbridge’s and the Reeves’, perfectly harmless in the daytime, but, oh, a test of bravery at night. It was hard to decide: would I rather have a full moon so I could see a little bit (but run the risk of becoming a meal for Lon), or the almost total blackness of a moonless night? Hard choice.

And it was not only the Wolfman, but later on the Son of Wolfman and the Grandsons of Wolfman, and Wolfman Meets Dracula, etc.

I know one thing. I don’t guess the Reeves realized it, but the sight of their house when I came out of the Valley was the prettiest sight I ever saw. It was, boy oh boy, I made it again.

Just remember, when you’re looking at that full Harvest Moon soon, be thankful that you don’t have to go through the Valley of the Shadow with ol’ Lon lurking about.

Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note.

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