Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ojibwe 13 moons #phenology

Thunderstorms in October bring high water to the Sunrise River and revive the chrysanthemums along the driveway. The front that moved out the storms left us with a classic October Autumn day. Practically cloudless blue skies frame stunningly vibrant colors in those leaves still hanging while there's just enough of a breeze to fill the air with, as my mother or her mother would have claimed at this time of year, "leaves falling so thick and fast they remind us of the poor souls headed for Hell."

Are there "blue moons" in an Ojibwa calendar?
Are there "blue moons" in an Ojibwa calendar?
Photo by J. Harrington

My morning wasn't quite a trip to Hell, but spending 25 minutes or so in an MRI machine, surrounded by pounding that sounded as if it could have been made by doomed souls trying to escape from the cells of Hell, brought my imagination into play to help me escape my immediate surroundings. I started thinking about Native American phenology and, in particular, what terms were used to name days of the week. I'm still looking for a satisfactory answer, but, in the process, I did finally find an Ojibwe reference to phenology. I also came across several names for September's moon "Waatebagaa giizis is the Leaves Changing Color Moon. Other names for new September moon are Mandaamini giizis (Corn Moon) and Moozo giizis (Moose Moon)." Spot checking several web sites on Ojibwe culture only turned up the single name "Falling Leaves Moon" for October. I'm slowly learning to use Ojibwe or Lakota instead of Native American in Google searches for indigenous cultural information relevant to Minnesota. Since we manage to keep track of several different time zones across the country, I think we might benefit a lot if we could and would superimpose Ojibwe or Lakota or whatever the appropriate cultural moon names and periods would be for where you live on top of our own Gregorian calendar. Is there an app for that?

Zen Living


By Dick Allen


Birdsongs that sound like the steady determined tapping
of a shoemaker's hammer,
or of a sculptor making tiny ball-peen dents in a silver plate,
wake me this morning. Is it possible the world itself can be happy? The calico cat
stretches her long body out across the top of my computer monitor,
yawning, its little primitive head a cave of possibility.
And I'm ready again
to try and see accidents, the over and over patterns
of double-slit experiments a billionfold
repeated before me. If I had great patience,
I could try to count the poplar, birch and oak
leaves in their shifting welter outside my bedroom window
or the almost infinitesimal trails of thought that flash and flash
everywhere, as if decaying particles inside a bubble chamber,
windshield raindrops, lake ripples. However,
instead I go to fry some bacon, crack two eggs
into the cast-iron skillet that's even older than this house,
and on the calendar (each month another oriental fan
where the climbing solitary is dwarfed . . . or on dark blue oceans
minuscular fishing boats bob beneath gigantic waves)
X out the days, including those I've forgotten.


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