Saturday, May 25, 2013

Divides, Visible and Invisible

Moonrise over Divide Mountain (c) John Ashley
May's full moon straddles Divide Mountain
For us insulated modern peoples who need a holiday weekend to get us outdoors, last night's full moon goes by several names. May's full moon is sometimes called the "Planting Moon" and the "Milk Moon." But "Flower Moon" is the most common, and boy howdy is that one right on time.

Shooting Stars (c) John Ashley
Shooting stars
After many gray months, spring has finally seperated itself from winter. From lavender shooting stars to yellow balsamroot to blue camas. Color is rising full, especially along the hillsides between the Saint Mary and Cut Bank valleys, along the invisible divide between Glacier Park and the Blackfeet Nation.

Edging into southeastern Montana, the Great Sioux Nation also has several cultural names for May's full moon. "Canwape to wi" means moon of the green leaves, while "Wojupi-wi" means planting moon. And "Pe-tai-chin-cha-ton" means buffalo calf moon, the time of year when reddish bison calves are born on the Great Plains.

As Plains Indians, the Sioux consist of three major linguistic branches - eastern, middle and western - collectively known as the Dakota. The western-most tribes call themselves "Nakota," but in the Siouan language, Dakota, Lakota and Nakota all mean “friend” or "ally."

Viewed in time-lapse, these cultural divides are like the clouds that form above mountain tops. They arise, divide and separate, then reunite and disappear only to be replaced with more clouds.