February 22nd is circled on my calendar. It is the night of the full Snow Moon and the night of the Moon Shadow walk at Wing Haven. All day I watched the clouds roll around blocking bits of the sun, but by 5:00 the sky cleared, and I knew the night would be exceptionally beautiful.
I gathered extra clothes, gloves, hat, flashlight and my walking stick and drove the familiar route to Wing Haven, right off of County Road 400 N. in Angola. A sign was propped up at the end of the long drive telling folks which way to turn. I was grateful for the sign even though I had attended many events at Wing Haven. Driving down the lane through the trees, there were shades of day and night mingling together.
I parked my old Jeep and hauled out all my equipment and headed down the pathway to the cabin. This cabin was once the art studio of Helen Swenson (1906-1983). She and her husband, Ben, were the first caretakers of the Potowatami Inn when it opened in 1925. Upon Helen’s death the land was donated to Acres Landtrust.
Mm m. Mm m As I hiked down the narrow pathway I could see smoke rising from the chimney and warm yellow light streaming out of one of the windows. As I got closer I could hear laughter, and many greetings as I opened the door. Ah, the cabin was warm and full of friendly town folks drinking coffee and hot chocolate as they gathered around the potbelly stove.
It is nice to live in a small town where you know most of the folks; it is always like going home. I took off my mittens and made myself a cup of hot chocolate and took a seat by the stove.
Our host for the evening, Shane Perfect, the caretaker of Wing Haven, was seated in the center and began the evening in a casual way. We talked about the name of the February moon, the Snow Moon, aptly named because the heaviest snows usually appear in February in northern Indiana. There are other names, of course, from different tribes. The Zunis called it “No Snow on the Trails” moon. The Cherokees called it the “Bone Moon” because food was scarce and they had to cook the marrow out of the bones. One young man, Josh, guessed that “Bone Moon” meant because it was the color of the moon, bone white.
We read several passages about the moon from children’s books before we finally left the cabin. One by one, carrying our walking sticks, we came out and everyone gasped at the beauty of the moon rising in the woods. We followed each other down the trail towards Little Gentian Lake. We stood out on the small dock watching the full moon in silence. No words were needed as the beauty was so great. After a while we began poking holes in the ice with our sticks and watched as tiny bubbles came to the surface.
No one wanted to go back, but we said our good byes to the moon over the water and followed the trail back up the hill to the cabin. We stood around getting warmed by the fire and then burst into song. We started with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and ended with “Back Home Again in Indiana.” I think we all choked up a bit when we sang about the moonlight on the Wabash as we long for our Indiana home. I looked around at the group and realized that we all called Indiana home.
We finally hauled our gear to our cars and let the moonlight lead the way back to our Indiana homes.
Lou Ann Homan is a writer, a teacher, a storyteller and a lover of small towns. Lou Ann’s enthusiasm for teaching has graced Indiana classrooms for over 30 years. She is currently a professor at Trine University in the Humanities and Communication Department. She has been twice awarded the prestigious Lilly Teacher Creativity Award. Lou Ann is an award winning columnist for KPC Media Group with a weekly column appearing every Saturday morning for nine years. Her work appears in newspapers in all four counties in northern Indiana.