I thought the moon was full last night when I woke up in the wee hours (thanks to allegies possibly induced by the yellow flowers on the acacia trees) and saw its silvery light streaming through the window. And my cat seemed to think it was a full moon, too, judging by the way she was racing through the yard, tail erect, pouncing on moonlit leaves
But according to my Old Farmer’s 2011 Almanac, the moon hits fullness today, Wednesday. And it is classified as a Full Wolf.
“Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States,” the almanac explains, noting that “tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon.”
The Farmer's Almanac also notes that January’s full moon was named a Full Wolf, because “Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages.” And it lists the origins of names for all the other month’s full moons. These include March’s Full Worm Moon (“As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins"), July’s Full Buck Moon (“July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur”) and November’s Full Beaver Moon (“This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.”)
Obviously, life in San Francisco under a full moon is a little more hospitable, with folks known to go surfing, bicycling and kayaking by its silvery light.
And for those of you into gardening, the day after a full moon to the day before it is new again, is supposedly the best time to plant flowering bulbs and vegetables that bear crops below ground, according to my almanac. (Though January still isn’t a good month for planting, even in California, because of the possibility of frosts.)
Likewise, supposedly, it's best to plant flowers and vegetables that bear crops above the ground during the light, or waxing, of the Moon, which is from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full.
“Plant flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the light, or waxing, of the Moon: from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full,” my almanac states.
The idea is that with no or little moonlight, a plant’s root system strengthens, and with full or increasing moonlight, a plant’s stem and leaf system strengthens. I haven’t tested out this theory yet, so if you have any moon planting stories, please feel free to share. And if you want to read more about full moons, check out the Farmer's Almanac's treasure trove of information here. And if you have any theories on whether nocturnal birds like night herons tend to be more active hunters on full moons, also feel free to share. I've been watching a colony in the East Bay for some months now, and it seems that they come inland to hunt in a grassy field near where I live on new moons and high tides, and hunt in the mudflats along the Bay on full moons and low tides (like the conditions we'll see tonight). But above all, enjoy the free moonshine.