Folklore tells us that people of long ago named each moon, depending on the time of year it shown. The harvest moon, say, and the summer moon.
A moon which appeared too early, an extra moon in the seasonal cycle, was called a blue moon.
When it came before the Lent Moon, preachers dubbed it the belewe moon, or, the betrayer moon.
Mary at Beauty Amongst the Weeds and Kathleen at Hill Country Mysteries both blogged about our New Year's Eve moon. A cold and blustery night here in Texas, Sam and I, along with a group of friends, toasted the New Year beside an outdoor fire pit. We looked up to the sky, champagne in hand. After the sparkles of the roman candles dissipated, the clouds moved away to reveal the big blue moon directly over our heads.
What does it mean when a blue moon shines on the very last night of the year? Is it an omen that foreshadows an ill wind? Or an auspicious promise of a better turn of events?
I took an interest in blue moons after hearing a native Texan, Nanci Griffith, sing this version of "Once in a Very Blue Moon." I was in Texas only a year or two when I first saw her performing it on video. I believe it was on MTV. This was back when MTV was a prized commodity, when party locations were determined based solely on who subscribed to it because it was that new and that cool.
You could call it a driveway moment in my living room. Mezmerized, I bought nearly all of her albums, went to see her live, became a lifelong fan. With this one song, I ventured away from pop and rock music and toward the more soulful folk.
A grammy award winner, Nanci mentions Austin's Congress Avenue in her love song, So Long Ago. A native Texan, she was schooled in Austin at the University of Texas. She taught kindergarten and first grade here in the 1970's. Those lucky little students. I wonder, did she bring her guitar to class and sing? Where are they now? And do they realize their good fortune?
Nanci does a haunting rendition of Bob Dylan's Boots of Spanish Leather, if you like what you've heard so far. Her duet with John Prine, Speed of the Sound of Loneliness, is another one that stops me in my tracks every time I hear it.
In 1986, Nanci put together The Blue Moon Orchestra. They've been recording and performing with her ever since.
So for me? There's no question. A new year welcomed by a blue moon is all good.