Wednesday, May 30, 2012


The other night, I went for a walk to enjoy the last moon of spring, the last moon of Wabun, the Golden Eagle.  This be the Corn Planting Moon.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the days right now are long, fourteen hours and thirty-seven minutes long, to be exact.  By the end of this moon, on June 20th, the day will be ten minutes longer, the longest days of the year, clocking in at fourteen hours and forty-seven minutes, the summer solstice.

According to the Wheel, people born under these spring moons are full of wonder and curiosity.  They are awake.  They are spontaneous and creative and, like Wabun himself, they are able to soar high, see clear and see far.  Wabun’s children are, by nature, explorers, hunters, scouts, trailblazers, navigators, pilots and cosmonauts. 

The Wheel always moves forward…but to what?  Usually, it’s about food.  The trees and plants have mostly flowered and budded and leafed and they are now beginning to fruit.  This is food, whether it comes in the form of flowers, stems, buds, roots, bark, leaves, fruit or pollen.   

The wild dinner bell is ringing. 

The new growth of spring rings that bell.  On the farm, this is the time when new lambs and piglets wean off the milk and taste, for the first time, green food.  In the forests, wild berries are just about to burst, the perfect food for bears.  In the woods, the beaver family swims out of the lodge and chomps down the weak new trees to repair the winter damage to their dams.  On the plains, the grass is growing high and that provides a cover for the rabbits and mice as they dart across the fields and lawns, looking for food, hiding from hawks and owls.  Bats are born in May and June, just in time to catch the bees and insects hunting for pollen in the roses and peonies and sunflowers.  Down by the sea, the blue crab molts under the first full moon of May and becomes soft-shelled.  The seagulls and pelicans have been waiting.

And for us?  This third moon of spring is salad: lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, baby turnips, baby beets, spring onions, green garlic, the radish, the rainbow chard and the spinach.  

Eat up…but don’t forget to plant the corn.

This is the Corn Planting Moon.

This moon actually has many different names.  It’s sometimes called the Strawberry Moon.  If you take a visit to any local farmers’ market, it’s easy to see why.

It’s also called the Rose Moon.  I like to do my rose-hunting by night.

But I prefer to call it the Corn Planting Moon.  Here on Turtle Island, it’s hard to think of a plant more important than corn, our native grass, the maize, the food of the ancient Wheelmakers themselves. 

I’ll wait for summer to talk about the corn.  It’s the moon that fascinates me now.  This one is for Wabun’s children: the pioneers.  These curious pilots?  Sometimes, they bring back trees.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012



The other day, I received an urgent message from one of the many citybillies following this blog: FOUND A FROG.

Just in time too.  She sent the following photo within the last days of the Frogs Return Moon:

This particular citybilly works in the produce section of a supermarket and, as she was unpacking a box of local asparagus, she found a frog.

I think this photo would’ve really tickled the ancient Wheelmakers.  Frog and asparagus, two totems of the second spring moon of Wabun, the Golden Eagle. 

We enter, this week, Wabun’s third and final moon of the year, the Corn Planting Moon.  It’s time to start preparing for the long slog and the bountiful harvest of the upcoming summer months.  Most of the tree-flowers are gone, the leaves are out, the frogs have returned and the asparagus?  That quintessential spring crop?  Time to let it go wild and weedy.


Just recently, I asked one of my farmer friends, “Why does asparagus season have to end?”   

I mean, as I understand it, the asparagus shoots out of the ground, you let it grow, you snip it at the base and you take it to market…then, a week later, another asparagus breaches the surface…and it’ll keep coming back and coming back.  “Can’t you just keep picking it all summer?”

“No time,” she said.  “There’s too much else coming up.  Got to pick, got to plant and you gotta weed.”

Gotta weed. 

I went over to her place, the Urban Girls Produce farm located at the Schuylkill Center, to watch the wild asparagus. 


So this is what happens when asparagus goes wild.  This is what happens to your favorite vegetable when you gotta weed.

Trees can go to weed too.  There is a whole roster of trees that are unwanted, uninvited, undesired, blackballed and ostracized.  In the books, it’s called spontaneous urban vegetation.  In the college classrooms, it’s sometimes called Urban Ecology.  Down here on the mean streets, we call them weed trees and I’ve found a couple worth talking about.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Look at this.  A nondescript street in West Philly, exact location will remain a secret for reasons that will be obvious later. 

I was walking down Street X the other day, for no particular reason.  It was an overcast day and getting muggy, which meant more rain was on its way.  I wasn't even hunting for anything but, citybilly or no citybilly, you'd have to be blind not to see the maypop.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012


No frogs.  No frogs for the blog.  Not yet.  I’ve been looking and I can’t find a single frog in this city.  I’ve only got about ten days left under the Moon of Returning Frogs, only ten days till the next moon rises.  I’ve got to find some frogs in the next ten days.

Frogs or no frogs, I’ve been enjoying this moon nonetheless, especially the recent cold and rainy weather.  These cold and rainy days are setting things right again.

We had a warm winter, too warm, and I don’t trust warm winters.  Everything was happening just a little too early this year: maple leaves, cherry blossoms, magnolia flowers, asparagus, taxes and lettuce.  Too fast, too early…but now this recent spate of cold and drizzly days have slowed it all down and we’re getting back to schedule.  Funny, how the Wheel rights itself all on its own.

That’s what I like, especially this time of year, just at the brink of the growing season.  No need to rush through asparagus.   

Just the other day, at the local farmers’ market, among other seasonal things, I saw a farmer selling some pokeweed. 


Normally grown in dark Amish basements, this strange native plant looks a little like asparagus.  Growing it in the dark gives it that groovy, fluorescent color.  It’s really cool to see, mainly because it only grows in this little pocket of the Northeast, out there in Lancaster Dutch country. I didn’t buy any.  It doesn’t agree with me.  Technically, botanically, it's got a little poison in it.  The cookbooks say you got to boil it three times to remove its toxins but the Amish kids say that’s bunk.  I don't argue with the Amish kids.

On the way back to my car, I noticed something on the ground. 


I know this flower.  It’s the season of the tulip poplar.  Of course.  Just in time for the rain.