Pawpaw’s moon

I’ve been remembering little things lately. Snippets and slices from my childhood that I haven’t thought of in years, maybe decades. Oh, the things I would ask my grandparents if I had them back now. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s the truth. I didn’t fully appreciate them while I had them, because I couldn’t. I simply didn’t have enough life experience, nothing to compare them to. I had no idea how valuable their perspectives were. I had no idea that “old-fashioned” could be a good thing. Now that I’m rapidly becoming old-fashioned myself, suddenly I see tremendous value in old-fashioned things. And I regret so many missed opportunities to learn from my grandparents.

One memory has haunted me for a long time because it is incomplete. It’s a memory of my grandparents’ farm. I am small, and it is high summer. I am outside with Pawpaw, just the two of us. Granny must be in the house fixing supper. The crickets are whirring their wheeeee-oh, wheeeee-oh song in the fields around us, and the first stars are twinkling high against the dome of a gradient sky. He points a calloused finger up at the pale sliver of moon and says, “Now lookee there. When the Indian can hang his pouch on the moon, something something something.”

For the life of me, I never could remember what he said next. My Pawpaw was not a man of many words, nor was he ever one for frivolous talk. If he told you a thing, it’s because he meant for you to know it. And here he’d taken the time to impart some knowledge to one of his grandbabies – and a girl grandbaby at that – and I go off and forget it. It’s been a source of real frustration to me for years, whenever I’d think of him.

Then last night, in my readings, I came across the following:

“When the crescent moon rides on its back, with the horns turned up, there will be no rain for some time. This is the moon that will ‘hold water,’ the moon a feller can ‘hang a powder horn on.’ When one of the horns seems much higher than the other, the concavity will no longer hold water, and one may expect rain shortly.”

Randolph, Vance. Ozark Magic and Folklore, 1964.

Now, I still can’t be sure of his exact words to me on that perfect summer evening. He might’ve said “it’s a good time for planting,” or “you can expect a spell of fine weather,” or something else relating to a lack of rain. But for the first time in a very long time, I felt just a little bit closer to his meaning, and in so doing, to him.

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