The greatest full moon is the January full moon. For several nights the snow has been taking on that great blue color and then on the full moon, since this is upstate New York, we got some clouds. Still, through the clouds now and again this great beautiful face peered out. I love that moon, I get to see it when I go close the hen house. At night I don't even need to use my penlight, it's like daylight with a black sky and brilliant stars that are really planets.
With my snowshoes strapped on and my wooly coat on and my silly elf hat that covers my ears, I go out into the yard. Once I'm around the corner from the porch light I pause and look up. The air feels like a pressure against my cheeks, pushing and intruding. But if you look up at where the moon is, even with the clouds covering most of her, the clouds part and suddenly you're looking her right in the face and it's easy to forget the cold then. Sometimes my feet get hot and I see my breath and try to blow smoke rings, but on a clear January night with the ice blue crystals glancing light off all the surfaces, I don't do much but watch the light from the moon, see it land in the yard and sneak off under the pines, no doubt to take a short break after such a long trip. The berry patches are full of light, like tiny lanterns shutting on and off, like frozen lightning bugs. I stand and watch and slowly breathe in and out. Then, with my snowshoes swishing and crunching through the crystal lanterns I stride without a word to the next awestruck clearing where I stop and look up again. I do this until I can stand no more beauty like this. I shut the hen house and walk back along the path toward the house. I can see the arch before me in the moonlight. As I turn again the clouds are moving like madmen escaping a jail and I get the feeling that I am moving too, but slower and more thoughtful. There she is, the January moon, so bright, so white and yet so cold towards me. I pass through the arch, the porch light spots me and comes on and I swish my way toward the lights.