A year of full moons and the hazards of photography

I was driving down a small country lane, getting ready to turn onto a still small — but slightly larger — country road. I looked both ways for nonexistent traffic and was surprised to see a large brown pick-up truck turning in beside me.

The driver stopped his truck at a diagonal right next to me.

I tried to ignore the fact that it seemed he was actually trying to block my minivan from turning.

I squeezed past him and turned right, making sure to drive at a normal speed. I didn’t want to appear to be rushing away from him.

He made a quick U-turn, speeding toward me from behind. He pulled up beside me, using the lane for oncoming traffic. I kept driving, but rolled down my window. 
It was large man with white hair, probably in his 70s. He lowered his window. We drove side-by-side looking at each other. He seemed to growl, rather than speak. 

I’m going to die, I thought. This is it. This is the end of my life. He’s going to run me off the road and shoot me. 

“I’m so sorry,” I said, trying to hide the fact that my hands and voice were both shaking. “I was trying to turn on the road up here, and I turned too soon.”

“That’s my farm,” he barked.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” I tried not to speed up. The other road was only about 25 feet away. Hopefully, he wouldn’t pull out his shot gun before I got there. “I’m going to turn on that road. I made a mistake.”

I put on my turn signal, and he sped past me with one final, angry glare. 

As soon as he was out of sight, I pulled over by the side of the road. I was still shaking. What just happened?

I thought about that farmer and how he must have been sitting in his living room, looking out the window of his white farmhouse, just waiting for someone to pull into his little lane across the road. He must have jumped up, grabbed his keys and rushed to his truck. I wondered if his wife was in the house.

“Earl?” she would call. “What are you doing, Earl? Someone’s just turning around. Leave them alone!”

I didn’t want to lie to the man, but I couldn’t possibly tell him the truth as we drove side-by-side at 40 mph. I couldn’t shout out my window, into his window, trying to explain.
“I’m sorry. It’s just that it’s my imaginary job to take photos of the moon…. I’m a photographer, for um… Facebook…. You see… umm… I take photos of the moon, and there’s a full moon tonight… and um…. I just needed to pull off the road so I could take a photo.”

Oh, man.

It’s hard to believe that during the past few years of my obsession with the full moon, I could have so many weird stories about my attempts to simply take a photograph.

There was that time I got an important phone call while standing in a field.

And the time we watched the moon with some special friends.

And then I had some deep thoughts about the Blue Moon back in January.


Tonight will mark the end of my moon adventures for 2018. It’s the last full moon of the year. This one is special because it also coincides with the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice, which technically happened on Friday. Still, it feels like a gift that we would get a beacon of night time light on the darkest night of the year.

We probably won’t see the full moon tonight. It’s been extraordinarily overcast the past 24 hours, adding an extra layer of dreariness to the already short, dark days. I always love the hope that the Winter Solstice brings though. At least we know that the darkest day of the year is behind us. Slowly but surely, the days will start getting longer and our lives won’t be cut so short by the limited sunlight.

I was eavesdropping on a conversation on Facebook in which a friend of a friend was commenting on the fact we probably wouldn’t get to see tonight’s full moon. She asked how often it’s clear enough to actually see the full moon where we live.

I laughed because I knew the exact answer. In 2018, it was clear enough that a mom with her camera could watch the full moon rising exactly three-fourths of the time. Nine nights in 2018, that bright orb put on a show that is slightly different and equally awe-inspiring every month, depending on how clear the sky is and the season.

I’ve even learned the names of each month’s full moon and come to appreciate why the exact same moon is called something different every 29.5 days.

I got to see a Wolf Moon in January. It was also considered a Blue Moon, which is a special name when there are two full moons in one month. (You can see photos of one of my favorite Blue Moon here.)

The second full moon of the month included a bonus lunar eclipse.

I saw the Worm Moon in March. It’s called that because it marks the time of year that worms begin slithering out of the ground. This photo was actually taken in the morning as the moon was setting for the day.

And the Pink Moon in April. Here it is just as it was rising…

And once it was farther up in the sky…

June brought a radiant Strawberry Moon.

And in July, we had a rare, perfectly clear night to observe the Buck Moon. It is named because this is the time of the year that a buck’s antlers are in full growth mode.

August is called the Sturgeon Moon, and this year it was bright red.

In October, a gorgeous Hunter’s Moon shined through the cloud cover.

And in  November, I almost died by angry farmer trying to get a glimpse of the Beaver Moon.

Tonight will probably be the first month of the year that I won’t at least attempt to photograph the full moon. It doesn’t look like there’s any chance the sky will clear enough to see anything.

I will admit I’m slightly relieved that I have an excuse not to stand outside on this freezing night. It couldn’t be that I’m still a little rattled by that farmer.

I think it’s good for me to close out 2018 with that element of hope. I don’t have to see the bright shining moon tonight to know that it’s there. It won’t give me a break from the darkness of these long nights and short days, but I can still trust that something better is coming.

A year of full moon photography

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  1. Loved reading this blog. Tom can totally relate as he looks forward to the winter solstice and the hope of more light in a day! He gets very excited about it every year! Definitely good to have the darkest day behind us.

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