One of the most enchanting of nights is that of the blue moon… so began a composition I wrote back in elementary school almost 40 years ago. Somewhere I had read that if you made a wish while gazing at a blue moon it would come true. From a wisher’s perspective, it would be like looking at a night sky full of falling stars.
I was still a child when I saw my first blue moon. It was visibly blue and I made a wish. It was a Friday night and I was in the backyard with my grandparents who were raking and burning grass.
Visibly blue moons are caused by smoke or dust particles in the air, not an entirely uncommon phenomenon in the mining and pulp and paper communities of Northerm Ontario where I grew up. Perhaps just the smoke from the burning grass was the factor that made the moon blue. I didn’t question why it was blue. It simply was. And it was magical. I made my wish… I hadn’t seen some members of my family for some time and I wished for their presence. Less than an hour later, they arrived, totally unexpected by my grandparents. I was awestruck.
The realization of my wish awakened my senses to everything in my surroundings. The colour of the sky, the feel of the evening air and the smell of the burning grass are all ingrained in my memory.
When I was a teenager I tried to draw a blue moon. It’s shown above, as seen in my mind’s eye at the time. I was captivated by their mystery. Unfortunately, I never saw one again. Or at least I didn’t think I had.
This New Year’s Eve we’ll have the first such blue moon since May 31, 2007. The next one won’t occur until August 31, 2012.
The Farmers Almanac has a different formula for calculating the occurence of blue moons, one that involves calling a moon blue if it’s the fourth full moon to occur within a season. For a thorough explanation you can visit Wikipedia’s entry on Blue Moons.
The way I see it, since blue moons only occur once in a blue moon, it’s best to leave calculations to the astronomers and the farmers at the almanac and focus instead on making the most of the wishing aspect of this event.
I wish that life should not be cheap, but sacred,
I wish the days to be as centuries, loaded, fragrant.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
In 2018, amazingly, two blue moons will occur: one in January and one in March. It will definitely be a year for making wishes.
Page updated July 31st 2015.
Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2015