For some reason, I've always loved full moons. Every time I see one, I stop in my tracks, fully absorb and appreciate its beauty and then thank the good Lord that I lived to see another beautiful full moon.
It is a gift, you know.
One night I walked out on the oceanfront balcony of a condo in St. Simons Island and discovered a picture-perfect, marshmallow moon hanging out above the glistening sea with its gently rolling waves. I was on my way to bed for it was late. Instead, I pulled up a chair, plopped down and stared at the white magic in the black sky.
You should never let pass the opportunity to appreciate a stunning full moon.
In the South, full moons are not only gorgeous. They have purpose. After all, traditional Southerners, superstitious lot that we are, put a great deal of confidence into what the moon dictates. Depending on the signs of the moon, we plant gardens, schedule surgeries, cut hair and pluck weeds.
"It takes nine full moons for a baby to be born natural," explained my dear Aunt Kath.
"Really?" I jotted that note down. I'm her protégé when it comes to understanding the power of the moon. We should all be students in the classrooms taught by our elders
"Well, that's what my grandmother always said and she had 16."
Then, she should know.
Law enforcement officers and emergency room staffs will tell you they dread the nights of a full moon when more fights break out, accidents occur and babies are born. That's not just Southern. That's universal.
When I worked in racing and there was a night race that occurred under the auspices of a full moon, we all groaned in weighted anticipation. We knew we'd be at the track until the wee hours of the morning because of constant wrecks and caution flags.
I remember one night in particular when no sooner would one accident be cleaned up than the green flag would fall and immediately another crash or spin-out would occur.
The winner of the race that night was not the only one not wrecked, it was the car that was least wrecked.
The date of Easter is determined by the lunar calendar. Easter comes on the Sunday following the first moon after March 21. If that full moon falls directly on Sunday, then Easter is the next Sunday.
Daddy, who was a scholar on the different phases of the moon and what could be expected during those particular times, was especially keen on full moons.
"I didn't sleep a wink last night," Mama would say over morning coffee.
"Full moon, that's why," he'd replied.
As we waited for the undertaker to come the night Daddy escaped from this vale of tears and sorrows, I happened to glance out his bedroom window and saw the most enormous full moon I have ever seen in my life. It looked to be three or four times the size of a normal moon. I moved closer to the window as the sound of my family's tears lessened in my ears. I stared at that towering November moon - the Hunter's Moon, I later learned, is the largest moon of the year - for a long, somber time.
Then, through my sorrows, I smiled. Daddy's old friend, the full moon, was there in all its glory to see him off to his place in glory. How fitting, I thought.
I knew a woman once who steadfastly insisted that she would die during a full moon. As her years waned to a close, she was restless and anxious each time one approached. Once it ended, she relaxed, confident that she had escaped death's summons for another month.
She died at 91. And it was, indeed, a full moon.Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of the new book, "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Sign up for her newsletter.