Friday, August 31, 2012

Going to Bed With Red

It’s called a blue moon ‘cause it’s the second full moon in the same calendar month. It’s not however, a blue moon by the older definition, which was the fourth full moon in the same calendar quarter, or three-month season. That would make it more of a challenge—something that might happen only once in a blue moon.
And this second moon of August is called the Full Red Moon, so that should clear things up a bit. Oh my.
Trolling through the moon info that’s available these days, the best, and most logical reason for calling it the Full Red Moon is that in the last days of summer, haze, especially from forest and prairie fires, made the moon appear to red to many native Americans in the East.
It was also called the Full Corn Moon, Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.
Moon shadows. Moon beams. Moon struck.
Tonight’s picture was taken after you readers in the east had turned in for the day. Where Susan and I are currently chasing birds, on the left coast of America, the party was just getting started.

[Full disclosure: I created this blue moon using a digital process that renders things in the old fashioned cyanotype image. California smog helped with the redish version.]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Growing Up

Bear Creek, where Papa Hemingway fished about 100 years ago.

Fishing the contemplative waters of the Little Manistee River in West Michigan this past week, I thought about my dadas I often do while fishing. It was he who sentenced me to this life-long pursuit, starting with a cane pole and bluegills when FDR was president. Now, the activity has evolved to high-tech fly fishing tackle and what might seem to others a near-impossible way to catch fish.
Long after dad was dead, I discovered he'd been a fly fisher. He gave up this more complex way of catching fish in favor of teaching me and my three brothers how to bait a hook with a red worm.
So, as I shivered in the challenging Little Manistee trout stream last week, I thought about how much has remained the same in this spot over the past 100 years and what a different world it is from when dad probably fished here.

The gorgeous, challenging Lilltle Manistee River in Michigan

I think he might have gotten excited about things like the Mars rovers; even appreciated the Internet. (Though he probably would have thought both a waste of money--like power windows in a car.)
One thing I'm sure he would never have abided was tournament fishing. To dad, the concept of chasing about in glittery speed boats in pursuit of bass or trout would have been as inconceivable as voting for a Republican.
For dad, fishing was a quiet, contemplative diversion; something to savor if only for two weeks out of a year otherwise filled with two or three full-time jobs necessary to feed his family. Our annual vacation/fishing trips always marked a significant period in dad's year, not one fixed on the calendar like Christmas, but a point more filled with meaning; marking the beginning of our summer exile; a time to recall past exiles--for better or worse.
As a kid, fishing for me was a numbers game. As an adult my thinking has evolved to the point where I'm not sure catching is all that crucial--which was what dad probably thought.

Grow up little guy. I'll be back looking for you in a couple years.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Labor for Elephants

Lisa at work

The traveling circus passed through our village this morning. I considered running away, then remembered a few other obligations. And besides, how would the government know where to send my Social Security check?
So instead, we took our 10-year-old grandson to watch the circus folks raise the big top. I think he might have preferred something a bit more digital than archaic, however, any chance you get to see a piece of living history, I say, "Take it! Go for the gold!" (Oh, too much television in my system …)
Anyway, watching the elephant (Lisa, by name) in harness, pulling on the rigging that raised the roof 39 feet above us, I had one of those what-if moments. Lisa is a well conditioned 37 year old, tipping the scales at around 8,000 pounds—give or take. She eats about a quarter ton of food every day and drinks about 190 liters of water.
Just think of how many humans could be hired to do this same manual labor—and they'd eat and drink a lot less. The humans would, of course, have other duties around the circus, but their primary function would be the daily raising of the tent with its 160-foot-diameter. There is huge entertainment value in this, as well as a cost savings.
So, later in the day when I was talking with President Obama, again, about the unemployment situation here in the U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A, I outlined legislation proposing humans, not elephants, be used as tent raisers. I told him, I know he's against this top-down economic mess the Republicans got us into, so this would be a top-up program.
As usual, the Prez was a step ahead of me. He said the idea has merit. He thought the symbolism of elephant pictures would make it easy for Congress to understand and hard for them to object to. But in the end, he said, elephants still work for peanuts, we don't have problems with them climbing that fence in Arizona, and we don't require birth certificates. Plus, they're only about 1 percent of the work force.
What if an elephant gets sick, I asked.
Prez said, one-percenters know how to take care of their own.

 Lisa at play

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Let’s Keep Our Fingers Crossed

I’m a day late, I know, however, August 1 was the full moon, the full Sturgeon Moon according to American Indian tribes that lived in this region. The full moon of August seems to have carried the same name with other tribes in the Great Lakes region because August was when the fossil-like sturgeon fish was most plentiful.
It took a while, however, overfishing virtually wiped them out. They were thought to be gone from Lake Erie, yet, every now and then someone would come in with a fish tale about a prehistoric looking fish tail, almost three feet long, etc.
A three-footer would be only a small sample of what a full-grown sturgeon looks like. Fish measuring seven or eight feet are not uncommon; fish weighing more than the fisher who catches it.
Reports of small sturgeon being caught are becoming more common. What’s encouraging is that last fall a seven-inch sturgeon was caught. As every fisher knows, where there’s little ones there have to be big ones. Do we dare to hope? As tough as it might be, we who fish the streams leading into the Great Lakes might try doing so with our fingers crossed.
But this piece was supposed to be about the moon—the full moon to be accurate. If you missed the August 1 full moon, you will have a second opportunity this month; August 31 will be another full moon. We’ll experience the rare occasion of a blue moon, as the occasion of two full moons in the same calendar month is called. In fact, it’s so rare, it only happens once in a blue moon.
And if you’re into forward planning, the second moon in August is known as the Red Moon. So the blue moon is really the Red Moon. This is getting complicated, however, I have a full month to unravel the situation.
Stay tuned, film on the 31st.