This weekend, the full moon comes calling – so full of itself as a herald to the equinox close on its heels that it will be intruding on our personal space a bit more than usual. The full moon this month coincides with lunar perigee, which brings it closer to earth than it has been for the past 18 years. The phenomenon has been dubbed a “supermoon,” by the media, which have also fueled suggestions that its influence on earth is so powerful that it was in some way responsible for the earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan. This bit of lunacy, however, has no scientific basis since the moon was not at perigee, but at a more average distance from earth, when the earthquakes occurred.
I prefer the Native American moniker for the March moon. It is more down to earth: the Worm Moon. Clearly, the Worm Moon was named by people who did as much ground watching as sky watching. March is when daytime temperatures rise to the point where the snow thaws and the ground begins to open up to possibilities – one of which is earthworms.
If you are an American robin, the possibility of earthworms is a powerful incentive to travel. I have seen robins around here since February, in small envoy groups of two or three or four. But two weeks ago, in the fog-bound drenching that tore up our roads, flooded our cellars, and drove earthworms to the surface of the thawing ground, the robins returned en masse.
Peering out into the gloom through the kitchen window on a Saturday morning two weeks ago, I spotted a robin perched on the rail fence. Then another two joined him. Then a group of ten or so overflew the fence sitters to inspect a patch of open ground near the barn. I got up to have a look into the backyard, where they all seemed to be coming from, and found the big sugar maple there had become a staging area for squadrons of robins, 150 birds or more, who were fanning out through the neighborhood to re-establish themselves for the next seven or eight months as the unofficial keepers of suburban lawns.
The worms are back. The robins are back. So bring on the Worm Moon and spring.