A MEDITATION ON THE STRAWBERRY MOON

WORDS: KATE WEINER

IMAGE: ELIJAH STEVENS

The strawberry moon is especially close to my heart. Since I first dreamed up Loam three years ago, the full moon every June has always brought with it a little magic. In so many ways, the strawberry moon embodies what I want Loam to be: luscious, life-giving, poetic, playful. 

Each full moon is an opportunity for reflection. This full moon, I'm hungry to dig into the last two years, to understand where I've been so I can find some guidance on where I want to go. As the lovely Lily writes in The Grace of Slow Change: "We get frustrated with ourselves when it feels like we’re not changing fast enough. But look back to two years ago; five years ago; ten. Weren’t you vastly different then? Haven’t you picked up new habits, new routines, new rhythms since then? Huge change did happen. It just happened so slowly that it was nearly imperceptible. In nature, growth is imperceptible."

So this strawberry moon, I am going back in time to trace my imperceptible growth, to give thanks for who I've been and who I am growing into. I sink into my first summer after graduation. Walk through the door of a little blue house in Portland that I share with a crazy couple who has made every roommate since pure peaches and cream. I don't yet know how to scrape together a sense of home and I spend too many evenings missing family and friends. I love most the cool mornings when I bike to the farm to harvest calendula flowers and scrub breakfast radishes clean. I love the long lunches with Linda, who is starting her life anew at 52. I love the memory of what my heart did when I first saw Will standing on the sidewalk after three weeks apart, of the morning we spent crisscrossing the Northeast by bike, foraging for ripe figs and plums from free fruit trees.

I return to NY; share a hammock with Abby and sip on iced tea. Go to Storm King with my Dad and watch Alex Bleeker and the Freaks play the kind of electric country rock that returns me to summertime swims in cool blue lakes. The days tumble into an eerily warm fall, too hot for my heartbreak, and I spend nearly every lunch break walking through the yellowing woods. Maybe something will happen! I wonder when. And because I'm tired of waiting, I move to San Diego in the heart of winter. That February is the loneliest of my life. There's sand in my sandwich and no light in my sublet. I am still grateful every day for my brother, who made me rice and beans with fried eggs nearly every week during those melancholy months; for sunset walks across Sunset Cliffs; and for the Southern California spring that conjured cacti flowers and purple jacaranda trees. You can't take anything too seriously, can't feel sad for too long, when the world around you is psychedelic purple funk magic mayhem. 

Hunger for new takes me to higher altitudes. I find a house near to the foothills. Get a secondhand salmon pink bike to bring me to ceramic classes where I am so staggeringly bad my teacher has me make pinch pots. That first strawberry moon in Colorado I cut my knee crossing a bridge too fast. I haven't hurt myself in so long that it's almost a relief; to know I can bleed and bruise and be fine. I dream up adventures and follow through. Pickathon in the Oregon woods. Sleeping in a yurt with Mom and Lynn at Dig In Farm. Driving across Iceland in the late summer light.

The harvest moon rises; the wolf moon sings. Time is slow and sweet and fast. In the spring I soak up the Northern California light with friends at the OAEC. Walk from Woodland Keep to Spencer's Spit nearly every day for a week. See a bright blue snake coiled and crushed up. Hike the same wildflower hike so I can read alone at the top. Stumble upon a field of poppies during an evening meander with Yannick and feel certain as I stand in that orange freckled pasture that those carnelian blooms are talking to me. Reminding me to give more, love more, dream more and still wake up yearning for what I already have. (Or maybe I want to remind myself of those things and the poppies are just a bridge). 

When I sift through the last two years, the small and not-so-small sadnesses, the small and not-so-small setbacks, the small and not-so-small successes, I feel like I understand what change truly is. It's the million and one micro movements that bring us from sunny days into starry nights. As a wildly imperfect human bean and perpetually striving environmental activist, I am almost always certain that change isn't happening fast enough. This fear makes me restless and anxious and angry at myself, convinced I'm not growing enough, doing enough, that whoever I am, I might not be enough. 

Tracing the places I have seen and people I have loved these last few years gives me a sense of my imperceptible growth. It helps me to see that the change I have hungered for in myself is happening and that the change I am hungering for in this world is happening too. Soaking in the hot springs with Nicole, trekking through the Gorge with Rebecca, making natural dye baths with Maggie, tarot readings with Lily, farmers' market forays with Alexa, scrambles with Sam, nighttime sketches with Laura, big talks with Kaison—these moments of interconnection and creation nourish the sweet sense of self I am coming into. 

This strawberry moon, I hope you make the space to look ahead by mapping out where you have been. I hope you take a full moon hike and make a full moon feast. I hope you trust that change is happening, in you and in this world. Every day. Always.