I’m smitten with the moon and that’s something that anyone who’s read my posts over the last few months knows. This last full moon-the full sturgeon moon seemed to go unnoticed by me. There was no post. I hadn’t forgotten it. I was out chasing it.
Pat and I were on Coney Island Boardwalk waiting for Luna’s appearance in the sky. We’ve been going there frequently taking photos for the cover of Coney Island Siren. We sat near the Parachute jump. It was dusk so we were witness to many families dragging coolers, carts, and kids. Toddlers were carried along with umbrellas. I marveled at the energy needed to make it back home after a day in the sun. The sights brought back my memories of hiking to the beach with my children when they were little. This was something my parents did for us too.
The sky was quickly darkening and we were scrutinizing it. Was it too cloudy to see her? Were we at the right place? We had pulled up our directions on the phone and we were certain she’d be up soon. Moon rise was almost here. As we waited, we saw a couple toting the supplies they needed for the day. Mama was pushing a stroller and seemed weary as she lugged a few bags along with it. Papa was alongside speaking loudly, insultingly, to her. She appeared to ignore him. I guess trying not to rile him up any more than he was. But he got louder and louder. It seemed like he had one ray of sun too many. He reminded me of a cranky toddler whose parent forgot to give him a nap.
Up close, as they neared, it was obvious that this was a scene that was all too common. For them. For many. A shiver went over me although it was about 85 degrees on that boardwalk. It occurred to me that if he felt free to act this way in public that it would be a lot worse when they arrived at their home. Another family walked by and the man in that group suggested the first guy take it easy. He said it gently. He saw the danger and wanted to quell it. Instead, this peaceful action antagonized the angry one who began focusing his anger on the man instead of the wife. For the moment.
It chilled me. This was a scene right out of the first chapter of Coney Island Siren. Frank takes hold of Maggie and tries to insinuate his misery on her. A passerby tries to stop him. To no avail. There’s never rhyme or reason to violence, in this case, the domestic kind of violence. There’s an entitlement to it that says I can do this. I own this and I can do whatever I want. It never makes sense. The families separated at the stairs, one to the parking lot and the other toward Surf Avenue.
Pat and I decided to walk down toward the other end of the boardwalk. Still searching for the moon. Trying to make sense of what we just saw and how we saw it on a night we were scouting out for a cover of the book that had the almost exact scene in it. Suddenly we saw her. Luna called down to us with her beautiful orangey glowing countenance. Pat took pictures from the beach. We let Grandmother moon turn her embrace of kindness, caring, and warmth on us and prayed that the woman who we saw would feeling the energy too. We prayed for her and for the women we aren’t, the ones who live these existences in their daily lives, like dresses that don’t fit but they’re the only ones they have, so they wear them. Some of them inherited those dresses from their mothers and they don’t know what to do to get a different one.
The August Sturgeon moon is called that because it is when an abundant number of sturgeon were caught in North American lakes and rivers. Among other names, this moon is also called by the native people’s name, Berries Ripening Moon. This is a time of gathering the ripe fruit and making jams that is traditionally women’s work. Women and children gather and may only include a very young male child who may still be breastfeeding. There is a power to women working, playing, and praying together. My teacher, Oh Shinnah Fastwolf, used to tell us that only women belong in women’s ceremony together. Gathering berries and making jams is a ceremony, I believe. Oh Shinnah said, the men should be holding their own ceremonies. I’m hoping that more ceremonies, that is part of creating spiritual lives, will take place. Ceremonies contain tradition, ritual, prayer, and a sense of honor and respect for oneself and other.
I prayed that to the moon.