Tonight is the November full moon. Each month the moon is named to correspond with the time of year or the events that generally occur. The Beaver Moon was named by the Native Americans who noted the beavers getting ready for winter by busily cutting down trees and securing their homes. Of course it could have been for the frontiersmen who hunted beavers for their fine pelts. Unfortunately, the haberdasher for these beaver top hats and the like used mercury in their production. Not very sustainable for the hat maker, that is. But it did give us the term The Mad Hatter.
Oh, yes, another trivia that I picked up along the route of camp grounds and grounds of conversations. A friend said the other day that I will be ready for trivia night or Jeopardy. Alex, I’ll take Geography for a hundred. Makes me believe I can final pass that U.S. geography test that I failed twice back in the 4th or 5th grade. As geography would have it, I will enjoy the Beaver Moon here in the Beaver State of Oregon. The
beaver is their state animal garnered from those mountain men coming through the Oregon Trail in search for land and animals to take to the annual rendezvous. It also seems appropriate that it is raining—to take the animal metaphor further—it’s raining cats, dogs, and beavers! However, a clearing last night garnered one glimpse at the moon and light clouds promised for tonight allows for hope to see the full moon again.
I never tire of the moon’s cycle. It reminds me of two important realities: the world is always changing and no matter how far I travel, I remain connected to others under the same sky. I remain connected to the state of my home and friends in NC—where most I know are reeling over election results while I hear about the Beaver State’s proclamation of re-electing democratic leaders and approving recreational use of marijuana. With that, perhaps, I do feel very far from home!
Conversations with fellow campers and individuals I meet on a trail or in a coffee shop have definitely educated me on new areas. But so has another device. Before I left for this big trip, I decided to get my radio fixed, which actually meant replacing it. The 2004 Subaru has been lacking a radio for three years. I believe it was the universe’s way of encouraging me to do more mediation. Most friends thought my lack of replacing it was crazy and more than one asked if I was being cheap. Cheap and Crazy…hope that doesn’t wind up on my epitaph.
The thought of going across country with just my voice for entertainment did sound crazy. So I replaced the radio with a machine far smarter than me and a tad disconcerting. My GPS woman is right there in the car with me and I tend to look over my shoulder to make sure I’m still alone in the car. Most friends asked: “You got the Sirius radio, didn’t you?” I could answer yes, however, the purchaser of the radio (aka: me) had to call Sirius and give them my information so they could hook it up—for free, for three months. You probably think I got right on that. That call was never made. Perhaps the idea of so many dial choices overwhelms me. However, I have used the radio many times as I have traveled. The local radio is really fascinating. I’m sure someone has written a book on this.
Without fail, religion and country music can be found anywhere in the country. Even when my search came up with static, I’d soon land on on a host shouting “The Holy Gospel Tells US….” And, do they have a lot to tell us. For me, it borders on scary (well, not really borders—it’s full fledge scary) but it is also alluring. I listen with my neck craning forward and my eyes bugged out. “What the Who-Ha did that man just say about the Bible instructing women to be submissive and how our children are suffering because misguided feminist are not listening?”
When I skip the religion, I like the farm report. In Minnesota, it was more engaging than Oprah. Beans are looking real good this year but soybean futures are down—which I think is a good thing since there seems to be too much soy in the world. What really swirled the reporter’s voice was his exclamations on the rise of red wheat sales from Canada. Apparently, it is being sickled away from the Maple Leaves by France. France? The home of a boulangerie on each corner! Prior to this report, I had never considered where France might harvest grains for its delicious baguettes.
The real saving grace along the radio dial has—to no surprise—been NPR. Did you know this week marks thirty five years of Morning Edition? There once was life without Morning Edition? I like that when you travel in any state you can still hear those familiar voices with great names like Neda Ulaby and Sylvia Poggioli. But it is also curious to see how each area has its own spin.
In Wyoming, I was struck most—perhaps because it was the fund drive and they were pulling out the best of Wyoming broadcasts. Micah Schweizer educated me on Wyoming as he interviewed the 8th grade students who created a science project that turns school lockers into protective bunkers should a tornado come through. In the morning, Grady Kirkpatrick provided an eclectic mix of music—including classic Neil Young, banjo with Bella Fleck, jazz and even a little polka. I did not expect to be so caught up in the station to support it, but my gratitude for the company while in the wild west made me stop and send a note of thanks. Being public radio, the thank you was met not with an automated return, but with a personal invitation to come visit. So I saddled up and headed to Laramie. On a bright sun filled day, I went down into the basement of the Knight building on the University of Wyoming’s campus and met Erin O’Doherty who introduced me to the crew and showed me the geographical reach of their stations. There were also pictures of the mules used to get up the snow covered mountain side to reach the towers for repairs. So darn western.
Public radio continues to keep me company and informed, but with each place something new is learned and my trivia continues to grow. Each place holds its individuality—whether it’s southern Utah with its dry air and brilliant cut arches, Minnesota with its lakes and stretches of farm land, or Oregon and its thick rain and deep green forests. I appreciate that all this diversity exists under one big sky. That one big sky I will be look up at tonight and take comfort that no matter how far I travel, I remain connected.