Posted by: Sue Spencer | February 24, 2008

Sap Moon Fireside – with Eclipse!

Each month, weather and calendar permitting, our convent hosts a Full Moon Fireside and invites any and all to come. During the warm months we gather down at the fire pit; in the winter we meet in our great room, around a roaring fire in the fireplace. We generally drum together for the first half hour, then have some kind of guided meditation, followed by conversation on a pre-selected topic.

This past Wednesday night was the first Fireside we’ve been able to have in a while. The November and December full moons had come too close to Thanksgiving and Christmas for us to try and host an event; in January, most of us were away. We won’t be able to have one in March, either, for Moon will be full on Good Friday.

This month, happily, several things came together to make it an auspicious night for a Fireside. For one thing, the sap in our maple trees is running now, and the steam of the boiling liquid was rising steadily from the evaporator on our front porch. Another factor was knowing that a total lunar eclipse would be starting just about the time the fireside was scheduled to end.

For days, the forecast had been for partly cloudy skies. We were praying that the clouds would part long enough for us at least to get a glimpse of Moon going into eclipse. At dusk, we were hopeful; looking out the kitchen window it seemed – could it be? – as though the sky were clear.

Our drumming began at 6:30, as usual. Sometime after seven, we forewent our usual meditation to show a portion of “The Future of Food,” which we’d been wanting to share with people for some time. This is a very powerful film about the industrialization of our food supply, dealing especially with the issues raised by genetically modified food.

Around 8:30, we looked east to a crystal clear sky and Moon, still rising. Some fifteen minutes later, we saw Earth’s shadow make the first small dent in the luminous disc. Bundling up, we went outside for a better view, watching transfixed as the stars got brighter, and as the shadow continued its slow progression, coloring the moonlight a strange and beautiful rust red. What struck us especially, in addition to the color, was that Moon in eclipse seemed less a disc, and more what it really is – a full, round sphere. This was particularly evident when we looked through a pair of binoculars.

It was a frigid night, so from time to time we took refuge, either indoors by the fire, or in the steamy makeshift sugar house. At some point, Sr. Helena Marie went into the kitchen and brought mugs for everyone, inviting us to dip them into the boiling sap. That put the seal on what was already a magical evening.

In my life I’ve had wonderful eclipse experiences, both solar and lunar. But never have I stood on a porch with friends, a mug of sweet sap warming my hands, watching a silver-yellow disc becoming a rust red orb. Truly a night to remember.



  1. Once again, we’re blogging in parallel universes (a href=””>see mine) and once again, I prefer your prose to mine.

    It was a magical evening indeed.

  2. Hey, everybody – Sophie’s prose is just fine! I recommend her “Locavores” blog to you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: