American Indians gave names to each of the full moons to keep track of the passing year. The names are associated with the entire month until the next full moon occurs. This helped them keep track of the passing year. Since a lunar month averages 29 days, the dates of the moon change from year to year.
Many full moon names exist, as each tribe has its own.
The names are derived from some event in nature. Although Louis L'Amour does not identify the Native American tribe in his story, the title more closely resembles the moon names of the Dakota Sioux:
Moon When the Trees Pop
Moon When the Eyes Are Sore From Bright Snow
Moon When Berries Are Ripe
Moon When Horns Are Broken Off
With some difficulty I found a copy of this short story. Originally, it had been printed in an collection of his stories titled Yondering. But when historians were collecting and printing these short stories, L'Amour's son said this particular one did not belong with the others. So, a second edition was printed which omitted the Christmas story.
|THIS COLLECTION CAN BE
FOUND ON AMAZON
AND IN YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY
When the internet proved fruitless, I asked my local librarian. She took me to several areas in the library to look for volumes of short stories categorized by author. No luck. Disappointed, I searched the Louis L'Amour shelf for a novel titled Bendigo Shafter in which he had included a Christmas scene, thinking that might work for my post. During this search, I found three very thick volumes titled: The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour. In volume one, I found "The Moon of the Trees Broken by Snow."
Imagine my excitement!
I checked out the book and read the very short story. It's a parable concerning Christmas, a haunting desolate tale that becomes obvious early in the story. The time is long ago, and the setting is somewhere in the American West.
A very old man and a twelve year old boy, along with his mother and little sister live in a cave. A long drought has driven everyone away long ago. The four remain, trying to survive, but soon the situation becomes impossible.
The boy had taken on the role of the man of the group, but he had no idea what to do or where to go.
The old man told him of a dream in which he saw men in shining robes following a star. He explained that he had no idea who these people were, or why they were following a star, but...he was certain the message was important.
The boy and the woman paid him no mind, attributing the story to the ramblings of an old man. But one night, when the four were at their lowest point, starving and dehydrated, the old man calls the boy out and tells him to look up. There, he pointed to the dark sky with a full moon and bright stars. One star stood out more than the rest. He told the boy, Follow the Star. The men in shining robes in my dream followed a star, he said.
The next night, the boy goes out and sees the star. He breaks a straight limb from a dead yucca plant and aligns it on the ground with a boulder and the star. There, he said. That is the direction we will take in the morning. The boy did this every night where they rested so he would know which direction to travel the next day, and soon they found damp earth and more seeds to eat.
At one point, the old man told the boy of strange beasts the men with the shining robes rode.
The boy asked what they found at the end of their journey. By that time, snow had fallen. The old man answered that they found a place where animals lived, and inside was a baby on a bed of hay.
The men in shining robes? What did they do?
He said, they brought gifts and bowed down and worshipped him. It was the time of The Moon of the Trees Broken by Snow.
The boy said, I will think on this later. Now, we have much work to do in the place of our new home.
I've learned to love and appreciate short stories, and have written a few. Although I will never match the uniqueness and creativity of Louis L'Amour, I strive to write good ones.
May the remainder of 2012 be good to you and yours, and may
Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men reign in our hearts.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas