Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thirteen Moons

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain, is historical fiction about a white boy, abandoned on the frontier then adopted by a Cherokee chief, who helps the tribe retain its North Carolina land during the 18th century displacement of Native Americans by the U.S. government.

The book's title comes from the Native American tradition -- later followed by European settlers -- of naming each of the thirteen full moons and the month in which each moon occurs during a year. The names vary from tribe to tribe. The Farmer's Almanac lists the following.

January - Full Wolf Moon (named for the wolf packs howling during winter nights)
February - Full Snow Moon (because February usually sees the heaviest snows)
March - Full Worm Moon (because as the temperatures warm earthworm casts appear)
April - Full Pink Moon (named after wild ground phlox, one of the earliest spring flowers)
May - Full Flower Moon (spring flowers are abundant)
June - Full Strawberry Moon (strawberry harvest)
July - Full Buck Moon (because July is when the antlers of bucks usually begin to grow)
August - Full Sturgeon Moon (good fishing -- especially of Sturgeon in the Great Lakes)
September - Full Harvest Moon (occurs closest to the autumn equinox)
October - Full Hunter's Moon (animals are fattened, and it is time to hunt)
November - Full Beaver Moon (time to set traps before the water freezes)
December - Full Cold Moon (nights are longest during December)

Charles Frazier is an alumnus of the University of South Carolina (Ph.D. in English, 1986) -- which also is my alma mater (Master's Degree in Library and Information Science, 2006).

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