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Native American Heritage and November’s full moon

While we were prolonging the season, holding out for an authentic “Indian Summer” –defined by the Old Farmer’s Almanac as warm days following the first hard frost — the climate caught up with us in a blast of wintery weather on the first day of Standard Time. If ever there was a day good for turning the clock back an hour and going back to bed, it was this past Sunday.

Yet the Abenaki know full well that November’s full moon (this week) is the “freezing river-maker moon” (“mzatanos”) and they had probably left the shores and woodland paths here on Spruce Point for their interior upland homes where the deer and pheasant might keep them fed for the winter. As we take in the last of this summer’s kitchen garden bounty we think of them gathering up the Three Sisters they had planted, the corn, beans and squash they had dried in the late autumn sun; and calling their children in from playing in the shallows along the shore. Not unlike our last guests here at Spruce Point Inn – their kids still finding clamshells along the beach and picking up brightly colored leaves on the Wabanaki Woodland Path.

November is Native American Heritage Month (made official in 1990 as a Federal observance, commemorated by the Library of Congress and Smithsonian as well as the First Nations). There’s an emphasis on “Heritage Month” rather than “History Month” to underscore the fact that the Nations are still with us.  When we look at the evolution of our year at Spruce Point we find so many touchpoints that are seasonal parallels with the “People of the Dawnland” who first came here “for the summer.” In fact, the Abenaki “temaskikos” July full moon means “grass cutter moon.” They meant the wild grasses harvested for a variety of uses. We mean the lawn.

Come March we, too, will be eyeing the “spring season-maker moon” as we “spruce up” with new amenities and refreshed accommodations, in anticipation of welcoming guests in May. In the meantime, as the moon casts shadows on the bay, we’ll be remembering full summer and standing on the dock in the summer moonlight. And hope a few of those “Indian Summer” days might still surprise us.