In my "earlier" years, I was very into dolphins, mermaids, and the moon. Mom and Dad convinced me that the painting of the mermaid hanging in my childhood bedroom was me, and I whole-heartedly believed them. My room was the brightest blue (think of a bright blue and then increase the saturation of that colour in your brain by 25%). I somehow owned a lava lamp shaped like a dolphin. And my username for MSN was moon2000.
While my eye has always been drawn to cool-toned colours, I think my interests surely included but extended beyond what looked "pretty." Maybe I wanted to imagine myself elsewhere. Surely, I wanted to feel some sort of connection with these mysterious animals, figures, and objects. Nevertheless, my dreamy childhood continues to inform a lot of my art and ideas!
This year, I decided to start taking pictures of the moon everytime I felt the urge to. Sometimes when I feel emotional, I think about the moon. For some reason, taking these pictures became a really nice thing for me to practice. I appreciate the cyclicality of the moon, and I love how my phone camera can never quite capture the way I see the moon.
After four months of taking these photos, I realized that creating arts and crafts devoted to the moon made me feel just as connected to it—if not more. So, I started painting the moon, paper maché-ing the moon, posting photos of the moon on social media, and writing essays about the moon for school. (The moon even gave me inspiration to make a slime...!)
Last semester, I worked on putting together an archive exhibit on April 11, 2018 for a seminar I was taking at McMaster University. I had the opportunity to do some archival work of my own when we were asked to create a project to share at the exhibit. For my project, I worked through personal feelings by creating artistic pieces associated with the moon and then theorizing that artwork.
Like so many people, I find the moon both inspiring and haunting. I wanted to work through feelings of sadness and loss by thinking about the cyclicality of life, the moon being a perfect representation of rupture and repetition.
The moon has a cycle, and therefore, you can't see it sometimes and can see it brightly and fully other times. And oftentimes, a full moon can look especially unique and beautiful—as is true for the Strawberry Moon that happens in late-June.
Did you know… every month has a full moon. June’s moon is often called the Strawberry Moon (in the Northern Hemisphere) because wild strawberries ripen in June!
When I read on Instagram that a bright pinky-red moon would be gracing our eyes, hearts, and feeds with its presence, I immediately texted people dear to me to invite them to view the moon with me. I messaged Kaitlyn in Birmingham, UK, my friends in Vancouver, British Columbia and Calgary, Alberta, Canada, my grandmother in Saskatoon, and my friends in my new home, Hamilton. Either I had sold this plan really, really well or I am surrounded by a lot of wonderful people because everyone agreed.
The problem is... I am not always the "brightest, fullest moon" myself, and sometimes, I have absent-minded days. As the story goes, I ended up getting the timing completely wrong because math is hard; everyone I had told to view the moon tried to "view the moon" but could not see the moon; and I felt pretty defeated the moment I realized the full moon had actually peaked the evening before.
Everyone was forgiving. My grandma probably texted me more than she ever has. And I got to see a stunning sky that evening, anway.
My advice, if you are planning on star-gazing or moon-gazing (which I highly recommend with the harvest moons in September and October), is this:
Give yourself a break. You don't own the moon. It's always beautiful outside. Care for the moment you're in.
And if you got the timing wrong, if you literally can’t see the moon because there are clouds in the sky, if the blanket got wet and it's raining, or if the entire experience just wasn’t what you expected, try to think about the person or people you’re with, the stars you have seen, or the most beautiful art and poems you've encountered (and will) of all the past moons. Care about the memories that get made—are getting made—and all the things you can craft and create!
For (Young) Adults:
Going outside with my loved ones to look up at the moon has become one of my favourite things to do. I love to read, and I especially love to read poetry. I have had many friends now recommend some wonderful books and collections of poetry. I will do my best to share all of those that I find the most moving, interesting, and inspiring to read.
The first that I will share here was shared to me by my dear friend Sally, and it is a collection of poetry called Light by Souvankham Thammavongsa:
The book itself is beautiful (as is Thammavonga's website). Thammavongsa writes carefully, passionately in her collection of poetry. In order to maintain her reader's attention on the central theme of light, each of Thammavongsa's poems contains that very word. I became compelled to think about the importance of absence when my focus was drawn to the only poem in the collection that ignores this rule.
Placed nearly in the centre of the book, "The Sun Does Not Know" is a beautifully short piece about our greatest and most complex source of light, the sun. And yet, the word "light" is absent from the page:
Thammavongsa's words read:
"THE SUN DOES NOT KNOW/ what/ it is like/ to be cold,/ or how/ to take in/ that dark/ around it" (39).
Thammavongsa does wonderful, powerful things with her words, and yet, it is in her careful removal of single words where the most uniquely-crafted meanings are found.
The reason I bring this up is to think again about my Strawberry Moon story. Even though I missed the moon, and it was absent from the sky I could see that night, I felt it. It was present in the thoughts I was thinking, in the conversations with the people I was with, in the memories I was making. And it became a nickname: one of the dearest people to me now calls me their Strawberry Moon!
Maree, Adrienne. “Moving Towards a Full Strawberry Moon.”Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/p/Bkc7Ih8gcUa/?taken-by=adriennemareebrown.
Thammavongsa, Souvankham. Light. Pedlar Press, 2013.
My name is Tasha Guenther. I currently live in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada while I finish my PhD in Cultural Studies with a concentration in digital cultures at McMaster University. I enjoy writing short stories and non-fiction pieces for grade school children.
Alongside my learning, studying, and thinking about digital platforms and critical theory, I really appreciate long conversations with close friends, reading poetry, and taking photos of my cat. Learn more about me here or connect with me on my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.