The moon is mysterious — always changing shapes, always rising and setting at different times. It’s a wild banshee compared to the sun, ever constant in its brightness.
The moon is alluring, too — so seductive that the tides move at her will (don’t talk to me about gravity, I’m being lyrical here). And yes, the feminine pronoun shall be used to reference her, because women have a special connection to that round lantern in the sky. The lunar cycle is 29.5 days long, the same length as a menstrual cycle.
I love the moon in a way I don’t love — or even notice — other celestial bodies. And so, after intending to do it forever, I finally went on a dedicated full moon hike. Meaning, I wasn’t out at night and “just happened” to glance skyward. Instead, I went out to purposefully hike by her light. It was an adventure available to us all, wherever we are, for free.
My moon hike happened New Year’s Day, the first full moon of the year. I was back home in Northern Nevada and had the wild hair (what a funny expression, is it just one singular hair that’s wild? where does this hair grow?) to get in touch with my inner pagan. It was time to check “moon walk” off my list of life experiences.
Following my wild hair, I went to the internet, which told me that the local parks and recreation department was leading a full moon hike around Wahoe Lake, the small body of water between Carson City and Reno. God love parks and rec departments. I’d never actually been to this lake, Lake Tahoe kinda steals the thunder of all lakes around here, so it seemed all was in “alignment,” as they say.
Here’s what happened when I arrived:
Arrival at Washoe Lake State Park. I’m surprised by how many people are here. At least 60, mostly young families. I get misty-eyed, the way I do when I’m touched by something wholesome and innocent. No agenda to be cool, just families out to experience the simple “good stuff” of life. Prairie Home Companion-pre-realizing-Garrison-Keillor-sucks-type good stuff.
As everyone chats and makes last minute preparations for the hike (which I’m realizing is more like a gentle walk), I wander to the edge of the water. I’ve been surrounded by people for days, what with the holidays, and I don’t feel like talking to anyone. The lake is very still. The mountains reflect in the water. Snow-capped. Framed pink by the sunset.
A flock of Canadian geese honk as they pass overhead. I love that sound. It reminds me of growing up in Carson Valley, just 30 minutes to the south. Every morning I’d wake up to the sound of Canadian geese taking flight from my neighbor’s pond — a sound at once melancholy and soothing. Attending college in Reno, I lived next to a park where Canadian geese congregated, pooping on the grass, honking their itineraries. This iteration of the sound was no longer soothing, because I was usually hungover as f*ck. It made college-me recall the geese of my sweet childhood but, tangled in a boozy haze, I always just felt the melancholy part.