July arrived in grand style with the Full Buck Moon, the name given to the moon by Native Americans because bucks (male deer) begin to grown antlers during this time. Though the sky had been cloudy most of the day, the clouds parted toward evening, allowing me to watch the moon rise without difficulty. It started out light orange then turned a hint of pink before fading to yellow and finally white. The round face lit up the entire sky, a welcome sight given all the rain and clouds in my area of late.
The full moon of July may was also referred to as the Thunder Moon by some tribes due to the prevalence of thunderstorms in the month. Other tribes also referred to it as the Hay Moon, signaling the month to cut hay.
What’s in a Name
Any of the above names fit my observances for July so far. I saw a young buck in velvet on my way to work today. Unfortunately, I could not take a picture to share the natural beauty of the buck. Its body was rust colored and the velvet on its antlers was deep brown and very fuzzy.
I also watched my neighbor cutting grass in the fields for hay to feed his cows. Many people interchange the word hay with straw, but this is not correct. Hay is made from plants that are cut before going to seed. Straw is a byproduct of grain production. For example, a farmer growing rye or wheat harvests the seed for specific reasons. Also harvested are the plant shafts, which are collectively known as straw.
The general term for both hay and straw is forage. Forage may come from legume or grass seeds. Examples of legume seeds include alfalfa, crown vetch, and red clover. Grass seeds include orchard grass, perennial rye, and timothy, to name just a few.
The storms that moved through my area the night before were full of thunder and cloud to ground lightning. In this type of lightning, a channel of negative charges travels from the sky to the ground in a forked pattern visible to the human eye. As the negative charges travel to the ground, they become attracted to channels of positive charges. The channel of positive charges is made possible through tall objects such as trees, telephone poles, or buildings. The connection of the positive and negative charges allows very powerful electrical currents to flow. This is why lightning can be dangerous.
Other types of lightning include:
- Intra-cloud, also called sheet lightning, which occurs within clouds
- Cloud to cloud, occurring between two or more clouds
- Cloud to air, occurring when air around positively charged cloud tops reaches out to negatively charged air surrounding the cloud
- Anvil lightning, which originates at the top of a thunderstorm cloud (the anvil), and travels straight down to the ground
- Heat lightning, made possible from thunderstorms far away
Lightning is the visible result of opposite negative and positive charges meeting. In a way, this aptly describes the month of July and its typical events. Thunderstorms are not conducive to making hay, yet the rain from the storms helps the grass that is cut to make hay grow taller to yield a better crop. The buck cannot move as easily through the woods during thunderstorms, but the rain from the storms allows plants to grow, which feed the buck and allow their antlers to grow.
July’s History of Change
What does July have to do with changes in nature? Perhaps the origin of the month can help answer this question. July is named for Julius Caesar, who developed the Julian calendar, which was the precursor to the modern day Gregorian calendar. Without Julius Caesar’s contributions to history, what has been learned about nature through the ages may not have been possible.
Also of importance is the celebration of Independence Day on July 4th in the United States. The events in history that led to this celebration were entwined with changes in nature. For example, the movement of the sun, moon, and stars helped troops fighting in wars for independence find their way.
The Great Connection
One thing to note is the connection between natural changes, history, and human beings. Without the sun rising and setting, there would be no natural way to tell time or keep track of events. Without history, human beings may or may not have developed the level of knowledge we know today.
So, next time you think a little drop of rain or ray of sunshine has no significance, you may want to stop and think how that drop or ray formed, what it has the potential to affect, and how its interaction with other molecules in the atmosphere has the power to change everything in and around it for years to come.
Some Final Thoughts
The events of July so far have made me contemplate time, nature, and change, inspiring the following poem:
Nothing stays the same
As time goes on
Through the rays
Of another dawn.
Shifting sands upon the shore,
Moving tides in the sea;
What was before
Can’t forever be,
For if it remained
Within time’s lawn,
The soul would not see God’s grace
In another dawn.
Within the body resides
Some of nature’s greatest art
Meant to carry the soul through its days
As the river flows on
Through the change
Of another dawn.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
July 3, 2015
Resources and Related Links
Cloud to ground lightning – http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/lightning/types/
Forage – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/forage
Forage sources – https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/ForageID/forageid.htm
Gregorian calendar – http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/julian-gregorian-switch.html
Full moon names – http://www.moonconnection.com/full-moon-names.phtml
Hay vs straw – http://www.usaforage.org/products/straw-vs-hay/
July full moon names – http://www.almanac.com/content/full-buck-moon-julys-moon-guide
July’s meaning – http://www.almanac.com/content/origin-month-names
Lightning types – http://www.weather.gov/media/pah/WeatherEducation/lightningsafety.pdf