Fall Full Moons

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September 3, 2013
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Fall Full Moons

Remnants of a beaver hut within the 1825 canal.  Riverview Road is in the background.

Remnants of a beaver hut within the 1825 Erie Canal. Riverview Road is in the background.

A rising full moon on the Mohawk Towpath Byway provides a spectacular picture in our unique landscape.

Native peoples referred to the November full moon as the beaver moon, because this time of year finds beavers quite active storing food and refreshing dams to keep water levels constant during the winter months when the water surface is frozen.  Normally, if you see the full moon in November the weather is favorable for lots of radiational cooling during the night and early morning hours.  This might be the first time in the year that you will see ice forming on a still water surface.  Historically, this is the time of year that Erie Canal traffic was most business like, as barge captains were trying to get one more haul in before the waterway froze in.  This year we have experienced colder temperatures already, with frost in the ground and films of ice on the ponds.  The Erie Canal system is now closed to traffic and the only water traffic is the N Y State Canal Corporation crews collecting the navigational bouys so they will not be swept away by annual flooding during the spring thaw.

Look for beavers in the Vischer Ferry Preserve.  They have changed the landscape in the flood plain as much as the State of New York did in the 1950s when they were trying to improve the biome to be more favorable for duck habitat.

Next month will see the long night moon, understandable, since this is close to the winter solstice.  With a bit of help from Mother Nature we will have a first of the season family moonlight ski December  12, the Thursday before the full moon.

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