By the Light of the Harvest Moon

In the pause between seasons, with the help of reflected light, we take stock.

We are in the middle of Harvest Moon season here at East Fork, a period of a few months in which we’re offering pots in this beautiful golden ochre glaze. It’s named at least in part (because there are Neil Young fans among us, too) for the full moon we’ll experience again on September 20, 2021.

The harvest moon is the full moon that is closest to the autumnal equinox, which in 2021 falls on Wednesday, September 23rd at 3:10pm Eastern Daylight Time, to be precise, in the Northern Hemisphere: the arrival of autumn. This is the moon that marks the transition to the new season, and for us, it’s up there with seeing the first frost on car windshields in the early morning and the noticing school buses are back on their runs—the feeling that summer, despite the warm afternoons that are sure to come, has gone.

Before electricity or machines with lights to illuminate the fields during harvesting time, farmers worked by the light reflected upon the harvest moon, whose angle of orbit, relative to Earth’s horizon, is at its minimum. This makes the harvest moon rise more quickly than other full moons, bringing more moonlight, and for a longer period of time. And this remains to be true for several successive nights, so the moon continues to look like it’s full.

Today, perhaps not so many crops are gathered by moonlight, but the Harvest Moon still has its significance, to say nothing of its beauty. It’s a moon believed by some to represent new beginnings and a time to look back on one’s past efforts. Think about yours. What came to fruition? What didn’t? What help from an outside source can you find for next time, and what can become the ease in your effort?

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