Badger Moon

I hear it every year. The complaint that we don’t have true Autumn on the West Coast. Where’s the blanket of leaves, the forests on fire with color, the snappy air that retires your fingers deep into pockets? When it comes to Fall, there’s a few things you need to understand about Northern California.

Our seasonal transition starts in August, and in drought years, even in July. The drying hills and quiet oaks signal the end of the growing season and the retraction of life deep into roots. Rather than October, this is the time of year that I begin to feel the specter of death. By the time Samhain comes around, it feels like the last exhalation. Our trees do change color, but unless they are non-natives, the color tends to be more subdued. Burnished copper, gold, brass, a little crimson here and there, on the poison oak, the toyon, the rose hips. The coyote bush fluffs out in seeds and crows fly by with acorns in their mouth.

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Thank you.

If we are lucky and get a little rain, the seeds that were dropped back in the summer begin to sprout, signaling the onset of our Winter. Rather than a blanket of snow, we get a carpet of little seedlings, barely visible below the brown thatch of dried grass. The mornings dawn brisk and, come November, sometimes there can even be a little frost. By mid day your jacket is gone and you find yourself wondering if it has always been this way.

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Superimposing seasonal stereotypes only works if we live in a place that fits the mold. Like New England. Or old England. Or even the mid-west. But what about all the other everywheres? Lucky us, we get to discover it for ourselves. I hereby give you permission to make up your own nursery rhymes and autumn folk tales, inspired by the signs in your bioregion. Here, in the Blucher Creek Watershed, I am proclaiming the current lunar cycle Badger Moon.

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The season truly belongs to the blackbirds, who arrived for the harvest in September. This same little group perches in the poplars at the back of our house every afternoon around 3pm. Jeff calls it the blackbird tea party.

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On my morning run, I pass by what I now call The Badger Field, an open and beckoning space, pocketed with large holes in the sandy soil. Mistakenly, at first I thought it was rabbits…then I found tracks, and even more thrillingly, a skull. Badgers, highly secretive, digging deep, mysterious and elusive. Sounds like a Scorpio to me.

For my birthday, I played the reaper in my garden. We spent hours outside tugging out scrawling tomatoes and dried sunflowers, shoveling truckloads of manure and laying mulch. Fern and I tucked in fava seeds and garlic bulbs, as she whispered little songs about Mother Earth cradling you and sleep well little seedy. (Thank you Waldorf).

She also claimed the hay bale as her house and set up shop.

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Our Halloween was so stress free that I kept wondering what it was I was forgetting. She came home with a big haul of candy, and after some anxiety and strict limitations I listened to my intuition that said, “It’s one freaking day a year and not only is it her candy, but she “worked” hard to get it. Just let her eat it. Within reason.”. Which is what we’re doing and it seems to be the best way for her to learn self restraint, as she parcels it out and makes choices. She’s also interested in doing the Switch Witch.

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These two girls push each others buttons like no-one else can, but several times that night, when asked if they were sisters, they replied No, we’re just best friends.

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With an extra hour on Sunday, I arose early, sneaking out of the house for my run. Knowing the light would be nice, I brought my camera to capture some of the beautiful things I see each morning.

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For the first two months, he barked at me territorially, but now Scout waits for me each morning.

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For the past two weeks, this friend has been out under a large oak that I now call The Jackrabbit Tree.

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I waited for 20 minutes for the sun to light these candles at the entrance to The Badger Field.

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The day of my birthday always has a clarity of light to it, the spaciousness of the first in-breath when surfacing from underwater. Perhaps everyone feels this way on their own birthday? A friend gave me a sweet reflection, saying I can’t get over what a perfect birthday it is for you. The bridge between worlds, a liminal power, a navigator of realms. Being born right in the midst of Halloween/Samhain/Day of the Dead is an entrance with some gravitas, and, especially as a kid, I have sometimes struggled with the weight. But when the day rolls around, when the ancestors draw near and the shadows are faced, I thrum with the resonance of inner and outer experience, and I feel fortunate. (Also, as a kid, it was pretty cool to get candy on one night and to get cake the next day.)

But this year I truly counted my luck upon waking, when my daughter leaned over into my face and said

Mama, guess what?

What?

Today is your birthday!

And she wrapped her arms around me, kissing my cheek and rubbing my back.

Best birthday present, ever.

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P.S. No, you’re not crazy, and yes, this blog address was supposed to have changed. But guess what? Since I last checked, someone has “reserved” the url for this blog.

Suck.

So it’s back to the drawing board, to find a new title, new url, new intro. At this point, I’ll take suggestions.

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7 thoughts on “Badger Moon

  1. Happy birthday! There’s so much goodness to love in this post. It was totally worth waiting 20 minutes for that one lovely photo, and I love the badger moon and the blackbird tea party. (Are your badgers the same as ours?) When I got to the line about the dog barking territorially, my neighbour’s dog started barking out in their garden, that was a bit odd.

    Even here in Old England the seasonal stereotypes don’t always apply anymore — it’s still practically teeshirt weather at the moment (or at least it was a couple of days ago, a little cooler today) and lots of plants think it’s spring even though we haven’t had a proper frost yet. I saw daffodils last week, that was a bit odd as well.

    1. I wonder if other places are having a bit of unseasonal early spring, since we are as well…but our climate is so temperate that often things bloom twice. That’s bittersweet about the daffies. Our badgers have more stripes on the face than yours, but I don’t know much about them…never seen one irl!

  2. Oh, ps. You can have more than one WordPress blog under the same log-in name, so when you come up with a new name for the blog, go into the “manage my blogs” section to grab it straight away. You can import this old blog to the new one (including all the comments), and then just leave a post on here saying where the new blog is and that should do it without you losing anything. I think it’s a good idea to mark your new one private to start with, so you can play around with how you want it before you launch, but you don’t have to.

    1. Thanks for this, I thought it was easier to change the url than to import to another one. Also, re: the RSS thing…I thought the squarespace site had a button to sign up, but it doesn’t. I’m trying to figure that out, but otherwise I’m not sure how you find it. I’ve got in on my newswire app, so there must be a way!

  3. it all looks so beautiful. Missing those plants, hills, weather changes. and I NEED rosehips! There is a part of me that very much wants to migrate back to ca (still, romance or no…) maybe during undergrad? and that sucks about someone reserving title… xo m

  4. Thank you Mary for sharing this beautiful day, in all its aspects.

    The light is wonderful and your wild (or less wild) companions are beautiful.

    And I am particularly in love with this sentence: “The coyote bush fluffs out in seeds and crows fly by with acorns in their mouth.” Its alliterations and rhythm remind me of Mary Oliver :o)

    On October 31st, I spent the early evening walking on my hill under a tender half-moon, and I could feel her protective, serene presence like never before. I get all misty-eyed every time I remember that moment. It was indeed a magical night.

    Bon anniversaire, dear Mary :o)

    xo

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