A Harvest Moonbyamicus©
My father explained to me when I was a boy that the moon was full and that was how we determined the months of the seasons that came and went from warm to cold and back again.
He told me that the Harvest Moon was a special time. A time where the crops of summer were harvested and stored away for the coming cold and how the people were happy that their work in the fields and the woods would see them through.
Sometimes the moon seem larger than usual when full and took on colors that it seldom did, ranging from a blue tint, to a deep yellow, to gold, to Orange and sometimes an angry red with dark lines of clouds across the face. Those were not good harvest moons he said, but I did not understand.
As the days grew shorter and the evenings cooled and there was less work to do, distant families visited, and we went from farm to farm to renew old acquaintances and share the fruit of the harvest. It was a very good time of the seasons.
It was always planned and adjusted for the time of a full moon, but the harvest season culminated in a huge festival that the entire village attended. Everyone brought food and tables abounded with good things to eat and smells of cooking meats and baking things filled the air and music came from all directions; it was the best time of the whole season.
There was the dancing too, at night, on a raised platform with torches lighting the night. I never paid much attention, happy to roam and run and cause mischief with my friends and eat and tease and run some more until I was exhausted and the evening deepened and it was time to leave.
This harvest moon was different.
The friends I ran with all seemed to find girls to wander away with and I found myself alone, watching the dancers on the stage.
And this girl....oh, my, this girl...glided across the dancing area not in any human fashion; but floating, swaying, bending, moving in ways I had never seen before. I could not take my eyes off her.
My eyes were entranced with her long dark hair flowing in motion, the low cut bodice of her flowing gown, her uplifted arms in movement and motion, her delicate fingers and feet seeming fantasy like in the shifting and glowing lights. My eyes were wide and my mouth open and my heart raced. I had never felt such things before.
My father noticed and I felt his hand on my shoulder.
"You should not stare, my son." He spoke in a gentle, and amused voice and I heeded his words.
I tried to regain my senses and watched as other dancers stopped, all stopped, to watch her move across the stage, even my father looked up and smiled.
Then the music ended and the magic went away. I continued to watch as she danced with many different boys, never the same one twice. And then the festival ended.
All the cold time and the season that followed; at night when I closed my eyes to sleep, it was her floating form I saw. I could not, did not want, to get her out of my thoughts and dreams.
I grew. My voice changed and hairs began sprouting in strange places and I felt things I had never felt before. There was hard work when the season warmed and harder yet when the warm time came and then again, the days began to shorten.
It was the dance again and her again and I finally came alive as I watched her move.
I felt my father's hand on my shoulder.
"Son...it is the way of things. If you want her, you must go after her. If you do not, a dozen others will. I would, were I a young man again; she is lovely beyond words."
I drew air in an audible gasp for as he spoke a hand reached out for her and she danced away with someone.
I stumbled up the steps to the dancing area and waited, without a word in my mind for the dance to end. I walked up to her and stood there, just looking and embarrassed.
"I do not recognize your face?"
I opened my mouth to speak, but no words formed and I felt heat in my face. I looked into her eyes and was startled and looked down.
"Do you want to dance with me?"
Her voice was lovely, lilting, soft and melodious, a joy to my ears.
"Ya, Ye, Yes..." It was all I could manage.
She smiled a warm smile and when the music began, she reached to my hanging arm and took my hand in hers.
I didn't really dance; I just swayed and moved my foot now and then as she twirled away and spun and came back and took my hand and turned, and left and came back a dozen times. I was entranced again, more so, as I could feel her scent and her touch invade my soul.
The dance ended and she stood before me and looked into my eyes.
"Who are you?"
All I could do was mumble my name.
She took a step back and surveyed me, up and down, head to toe and then back again to my face. A crowd of boys surrounded us with hands reached out to her. She smiled and looked into my eyes again.
"Shall I dance with someone else?"
She smiled again; that warm and wondrous smile and moved close and put her arms around my waist.
"Then dance with me."
"I don't know how."
She smiled again, took my hand and lifted it up and moved. "Follow what I do."
I was almost dancing with her when the music stopped again. I didn't want her to dance with anyone else and I tried to find the words, but none came. I just put my hands on her upper arms and looked into her eyes.
She looked up at me and smiled and the look in her eyes changed. She took my hand and led me across the stage and down the stair steps and off into the woods. I just followed, held tightly to her hand and helped her over fallen trees and deeper into the woods as the music and lights faded and only the harvest moon lit the small grassy area she led me to.
She stopped and turned to me. "I only kiss one time and I only kiss back as a thank you. I never let anyone touch me."
My face was hot again. "I have never kissed a girl."
She smiled and came close and lifted her face and pulled mine down to hers.
She gasped, pushed me away and stepped back. I saw her chest heaving and I could not find my breath and felt dizzy.
After a long moment she lifted her head again. "You may kiss me again...if you wish."
She just stood there...a few feet in front of me.
I took a deep breath and stepped forward, close, but not touching her. I wanted to put my arms around her, but I just gently rested them on her waist and closed my eyes and leaned down to her uplifted face.
I was just a soft, gentle mingling of lips and cautious exploration that seemed interesting and exciting to both of us. She surged forward, our bodies came together and I felt her hands on my shoulders and then on my shoulders, then pressing my head down on hers as I put my arms fully around her and pulled her closer.
I got lost somewhere and had to blink back when she pushed me away and stood there, panting and wide-eyed, as I was and swaying as if a stand of grass in a changeable wind.
Our breathing slowly diminished as she put her hands out as if to balance herself. My feet finally found firm earth and I could breathe again.
"I have never wanted anyone to touch me...."
She lowered herself to the soft grass and earth of the meadow and reached her arms up to me.
I was shaking all over as I lowered myself to her. She pulled me part way on top of her so that one of my legs was between hers and my head rested on her shoulder.
She had planned our being here and she controlled when I kissed her the first time. She pulled my face to hers and we kissed again and the world went insane. She took my hand and put it on her breast and I touched a girl for the first time. She took my hand and guided it down and I was afraid.
We cried in each others arms.
We surprised our parents, although my father smiled the biggest smile I ever saw.
We surprised the entire village but they joined us in the custom of our people and set about to build us a place to live before the cold time set in.
Family and friends from every quadrant brought furnishings and food and cooking utensils. They filled the larder and brought a cow and a sow and chickens and rabbits for the newly built pens and cages.
I knew happiness and contentment beyond my dreams as we learned each other's ways when the snow flew and the harsh winds blew and the fire in the fireplace flickered and warmed. It was the best time of my whole life.
She was heavy with child when the hard work of the warm time came. Her family and friends gathered and tended her. My father walked me away when the screaming started. I did not understand as he explained the chores I needed to accomplish to make the land we were given, prosper more; I did not care, at that moment about such things.
He kept me walking forever it seemed and I did not understand; but he was my father and I did not but walk and listen.
I cried when we returned and my mother announced that I had a son. I cried again as I rushed to her side and buried my head on her chest. She ran her fingers through my hair and caressed my head.
"We have a son." She said softly. "It is as I wished."
She recovered quickly, perhaps more so than did I. It was a good season and when the harvest moon came, the people celebrated and I remembered and we watched and smiled, arms around each other.
I felt a family grow, that cold time, she did too, I think. Our separate being, away from parents, our own existence; it felt strange and wonderful.
A season passed and more. Our daughter come into the world in a heavy snow. I worried and fretted; my father walked me again as the time dragged by.
But all was well and when the warm time filled and I walked through the village as a man among men with my family; I felt a pride beyond words, beyond understanding.
The small pains began. My mother took ill and I feared for her. I walked with my father in a different way. The warm season faltered and more rains fell and the harvest was poor. We still celebrated.
Another poor season followed and we struggled to find meat and fish to cure and crops were meager. We were not in want, but we did not feast as we had before. It was an unkind time for the people.
Then a smiling, excited face and she was with child again. A small joy in a dreary world that had fallen upon us all.
Then the first real sadness in my life when she doubled over with pain and the womenfolk tended her and wept.
It was not the first child to be lost among the people. The hard times were blamed. I tried to accept it.
The season changed and the warm returned in full and crops were heavy and full and the people sighed in relief as fortune smiled upon us.
But she did not. She carried out her duties as mother and wife but I did not touch her other than comfort. I sensed she did not wish it.
She would not attend the harvest festival and when work was done, retired to her bed and did not speak and would not speak and I tried again and again.
Another season passed and she did not improve. I became mother also to my son and daughter and soothed their fears and tended their ills and mourned for my love.
The harvest festival was upon us again. I did something I had never done before. I insisted. I found the dress I had first ever seen her dance in and demanded. She was more than angry. I spoke to my mother and she cared for the children. I dragged her, protesting, to the festival dance and up to the stage while the music played.
She stood alone in the silence with only the music and the eyes upon her. They knew. She knew. I shuddered to think I had done terribly wrong when slowly she began to move.
She came alive again; slowly and in slow motion it seemed as an arm rose and fell then rose again. Those who played the music seemed to know, those who watched, seemed to understand. I moved a little closer.
The tempo of the music seemed tied to her movements and gestures. I felt scalding tears flow down my cheeks. She opened her eyes and smiled and looked around as the tempo increased to a frenzy and those watching voiced approval and I moved close to her as the music ended.
"I have been away for too long. Will you forgive me?"
Her eyes were different, but still the eyes I knew.
"You are my only love in life. I will always be here."
She smiled. "Would you like to dance with me?"