The Other Kind Of Blue Moon

So… I learned something new today. I had known for some time of the “second full moon in the same month” definition, but it turns out that is the second definition. Before it (and still, but less well known perhaps thanks to Nanci Griffith and Patrick Alger), it turns out that a Blue Moon is the third full moon in a four moon season–so tonight is this year’s summer Blue Moon. Or so says, anyway.

Back when I thought there was only one definition, in 2009, specifically, there was a Blue Moon on New Years Eve. Which was pretty cool, if you ask me. I saw it, as I so often do, as an occasion for a verse.

A bit of an explanation first. I realized, upon reading this, that my mom is strange. You see, she has her own way of pronouncing some words–not a regional accent, just her. “Bicycle” is pronounced as if you just put “bi” in front of the word “cycle”; nobody does that. “Aren’t” is pronounced with two syllables; nobody does that. And the phrase “once in a blue moon” has the accent on the word “blue”, like “once in a BLUE moon”. Again, nobody does that. But… the tag phrase to this verse came to me, unbidden, as such things do, and it was pronounced that way. So, no complaining about the meter; I already know.

As the calendar crawls toward the end of the year
And of course, as a brand new beginning draws near
I guess it’s just human to look to the past
At the things we have done; at the lot we’ve been cast,
At the friends we have gained, and the friends we have lost,
At the things we might change, had we just known the cost.
I’ll go quite a long time without thinking of you,
But, once in a blue moon, I do.

A year full of travel, of learning, of fun,
A year I’d have sworn had just only begun
Although it was tough, this was one of the best,
With the children all grown up and leaving the nest
They’re better than me, I’ll admit it with pride,
And I think I might burst, I’m so happy inside!
And my heart doesn’t feel like the thing it once was
But, once in a blue moon, it does.

It isn’t the same, but it never can be,
As time, and as life, moves too quickly for me,
The days—hell, the weeks—are a bit of a blur
And things are not ever the way that they were.
I guess I just mean that I want you to know
That I hope you are happy and well, even though
I may miss you much more than the law should allow,
Just once in a blue moon… like now.

So, happy Blue Moon to you all!


  1. Franz says

    I always think of a very dumb Gilligan’s Island episode whenever “Blue Moon” is mentioned.

  2. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    The old farmer’s almanac idea for blue moon doesn’t make a lick of sense. Why oh why would they name the third out of four moons the blue one? Yeah, I understand that in an average season we get three full moons. Then, some years, we get one extra moon squeezed in at the end of one season’s span of dates. (This year, it will be Sept 18/19 shortly before the autumn equinox date of 9/22). So why oh why is it not the fourth moon, the extra one, the rare squeezed-in one, which gets awarded the title of “blue moon”? Why pick on the third one, which merely rises as expected in each and every season throughout all the centuries?

    Well, it’s only folk etymology, so it hardly matters if it’s “right” or “wrong” now.

    Since it doesn’t appear the internet has any alternate sources, I guess we’re stuck with it as a relic.

    Interesting, though, that a seasonal-blue-moon is conceptually opposite of a two-in-one-month blue moon. Both kinds cannot happen in the same season. They can hardly even happen in the same year. The next time is 2048 (one in Jan the other in Aug). I won’t still be around to see it, chances are. If I am, I hope I remember to celebrate the really rare Ultra-Blue moons.

  3. says

    A true blue moon
    Ascends like a new balloon
    Or a cool doubloon.

    Tonight at nine
    It hung there as on a line
    And I knew it’s mine.

    Your poem sings
    And the jumping cow has wings–
    Just one of those things.

    – Kate Jones

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