2021.04.26 Pink Moon, April 2021
Have you looked up tonight at the beautiful, full April moon?
This month, it is a supermoon which means it appears about 7% bigger and about 15% brighter than normal full moons because it is passing Earth at the closest point in its orbit (less than 224,000 miles).
There will be another one in May, but these are the only two proper supermoons we'll have this year. (The last one was a blue Supermoon at Halloween 2020 which was my favourite moon of all time, ever.)
Pink Moon over Carnesure Terrace, by Stevie Ashmore, Comber
According to folklore, this is the best time (for the next few weeks) for killing weeds, thinning, pruning, mowing, cutting timber, and planting below-ground crops. I wish folklore was a bit easier: it never seems to be the best time for drinking gin with friends lol. I have obediently been weeding, painting garden fences and sheds, planting out my baskets and generally keeping busy outdoors.
The April full moon is known as the Pink Moon although some Native American tribes call it the Sprouting Grass Moon, Budding Moon (as new shoots start to appear), or the Flower Moon. Some know it as the Egg Moon as birds start laying eggs. Mum's hens are back on the lay again after being useless all winter: and the rooster is in seventh heaven.
Another name is the Fish Moon, as this was when certain fish swam upstream to spawn. The Cherokees believed that flowing water was under the control of a spirit called the Long Man, and they performed rituals to honour him during the Full Pink Moon - eg the Knee Deep Dance, based on the movements of the Water Frog. I have seen men, unknowingly and unwittingly, doing this dance in Belfast......
(Photo by Aidan Mac Carrig, Galway)
But is the Pink Moon pink? Nope. It's actually named after a wildflower, phlox, which blooms pink at this time of year. Also known as 'moss pink' or 'creeping phlox', it's a gorgeous plant, native to the eastern United States and one of the earliest widespread flowers of spring.
Also moon-related, I was reading today about dandelions. The dandelion is the only flower that represents the 3 celestial bodies of the sun, moon and stars. The yellow flower resembles the sun, the puff ball resembles the moon and the dispersing seeds resemble the stars. Although today we think of them as weeds, dandelions are incredibly useful plants and if you're a bee (which we're not, but just imagine) there is nothing more attractive than that big yellow landing pad full of nectar. Incidentally, you can make dandelion wine or dandelion beer, or even root of dandelion coffee!
My last moon-related thought tonight is about Galileo who, in 1609, produced a set of six watercolours of the Moon which he observed through a telescope. These pictures represent the first realistic depiction of the Moon in history. I like to think that he was outside gawping at the Pink Moon over 400 years ago, and being scunnered about weeding.
Happy Full Moon to one and all xo