The moon is growing larger these days, and will become The Hunter's Moon on Oct. 25. Perhaps it is so named because it gives light at night to those stalkers of the canyons and forests who search for big game at this time of year.
It was just a month ago, on Sept. 25, that we had the Harvest Moon. That name comes from the fall agricultural work because it lights the fields for the overtime required by the harvest. The Harvest Moon rises at the same time the sun sets, about 6 p.m., and lights the fields until dawn. This brilliant night light continues for several nights to bless the outdoors-person. Perhaps of further interest is that the Harvest Moon resembles a jack-o'-lantern when it is tilted to the left just after rising. As it tips upright it looks more like a lady's profile, and when it tips west at setting time in the morning, a jumping rabbit appears. I haven't visited the Hunter's Moon to see if the same images appear.
However, ancient warnings prevail about being outdoors too much during these times, or one is in danger of becoming moonstruck. That word literally means "lunatic" and comes from the Latin luna or moon.
We also get our word lunar from this root, and bouts of "lunacy" are attributed to being "moonstruck." The full moon is blamed for everything from bad moods, to earthquakes, violence, and floods, to say nothing of howling, falling in love, and becoming terribly restless.
By the way, in 1953, amateur photographers captured the sight of a 65.6-foot-wide asteroid smashing into the moon. They say lunar collisions like that occur once a decade. That one created an explosion 35 times the force of the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima in World War II. Then in 1994 one of our spacecraft photographed the 1.24-mile crater left by that impact.
But let's move on in our trivia from the moon to the Earth. We just marked Columbus Day again, and should have taken the time then to pay tribute to North and South Native Americans for their contributions to the Old World and to those of us with European heritage. Native American gifts include many things in agriculture, medicine, architecture, philosophy, language and government. For example, 70 percent of the food eaten in the world today is native to the Americas.
Consider corn, tomato, avocado, chocolate, chili peppers, peanuts, cranberries and turkey to name a few.
What if Columbus had never discovered this place, and we had missed out on all of that?
Then there is the invention of the disposable diaper. Before being strapped to the cradle board the baby was placed in a soft leather sack which was filled with absorbent material, like the down from puff balls or cattails, dried moss, cedar fibers or dried buffalo chips.
Do you enjoy a hammock? When Columbus arrived in the Caribbean he found the native people sleeping in a previously unknown contraption called a hammock, and wrote in his journal that he was impressed by their cool, comfortable and clean way of sleeping. The hammocks were of knitted cotton with ties made from the agave plant. Hammocks also made easily rocked cradles for babies. Soon Europeans adopted the hammocks for use on naval and merchant ships.
Some of our readers claim descent from folks like Columbus as well as Native Americans. Some of the rest of us can only go back to England or Europe for our ancestors. But try to fathom this! If you start with two parents plus four grandparents plus eight great-grandparents etc., by the time you get out to 13 generations your number of ancestors would exceed the total population base of the earth at that time. Take it back to the time of Charlemagne and you would have the potential for 281-trillion ancestors.
Of course, that is more than the population at that time, so the answer lies in that 80 percent of marriages in history were between second cousins. Or so say those who make a science of such things. The population was so much smaller, and people lived in small communities like the Rim country, so close-knit families and intermarriage were the norm. Just try to draw a family tree for the pioneer families around Payson. Talk about convoluted ...
Are you game for the origin of a few nursery rhymes? Many came from the conflicts between Scotland and England, like Humpty Dumpty. He was actually King Charles IV of Scotland who died in 1513. He was a very large man who rode the largest horse around, and it was named "The Wall." As he rode along a cliff to join his troops, the horse called The Wall slipped and fell. Both horse and rider were killed.
You remember Little Jack Horner? He was a man who really lived in 16th century England, and the plum he pulled out was a fine estate, which he got out of lands seized by Henry VIII from the church.
In America, many of the Kentucky mountain people came from Scotland, having been oppressed for their love of the Stuart pretenders to the English throne. Here they kept alive the memory of their Bonny Prince Charley with such songs as,
"Over the hill to feed my sheep,
"Over the hill to Charley;
"Over the hill to feed my sheep
"On buckwheat cakes and barley."
Or this one,
"Charley he's a dandy,
"Every time he goes to town
"He gets his girl some candy."
One final bit. I am disposing of about half my research library, several hundred books on Native Americans, Arizona history, New Mexico history, and the Indian Wars. If anyone is interested in looking them over, please call me for an appointment, at (928) 474-8535.