“The moon has different names?” Emily asked as she looked up into the night sky. Miss Emma nodded her head slowly and looked towards the full moon shining down on them. A smile slowly passed over her lips as she thought about the many, many full moons she’d seen in her days.
“Oh yes. A different name for every month of the year. This was how people in very old times kept track of their seasonal times. For those who lived here in those distant days they often called this the Milk Moon or the Full Flower Moon for this was the time when you’d see your spring flowers bringing color back into the world.” Miss Emma grew quiet for a moment as her thoughts traveled elsewhere. She looked towards the dense line of dark that was the start of the forest and a very old memory came to mind. “I once knew it by a different name though…”
“What was that name?” Emily asked. Her aunt’s face looked dreamy as it often did when her mind drifted back to places lived quite some time ago. And indeed, her great aunt was thinking of a place quite far away.
“Artames.” Miss Emma said simply but she didn’t immediately elaborate. Her memories were in a place when this land was a large spread of tall grass and unchecked wild flowers. She saw her father standing in that place where the boarding house would eventually be built. With him was another man that she had liked very much at the time. A man who would change her family’s life for better or worse.
The memory skipped to a different one where her father was asleep in a tent a little ways away with the rest of the men who’d come to the spot to help the architect Jarvis build a house. Jarvis was the other man in the previous memory. He’d been very good friends with her father. He’d been deceptively friendly to them all. For a young Emma… he’d been the first man to make her heart flutter.
While his work crew slept, Jarvis stood out in the field among the newly growing wild flowers staring up at the full May moon. He didn’t move. He didn’t even look as though he was taking breath. The brilliant moon lit up the area around him with its natural light. It was one of those few times the whole area wasn’t nearly pitch black after the sun set.
A young Emma had moved towards him. There had been no plans in her head or any reasons why she moved towards the man other than this was the first time she’d seen him alone. Normally he was either in deep conversation with her father or giving his work crew directions. But here he was all alone in nothing but his thin bed clothes and all Emma wanted to do was to be near him in that moment.
“The full moon’s beautiful isn’t it?” her young woman’s voice had asked.
The sound of her voice in the silence had startled Jarvis. It was that brief moment that caused Emma to realize, somewhere at the edges of her thoughts, that she was hearing silence. She didn’t hear any of the night noises so common to the area after the sun went down.
The man turned and quickly approached Emma and for a moment she had the urge to run away from him as he pushed through the flowers and tall grass. She was just about to turn the other way and head back to her father’s tent (where she was supposed to be sleeping) but stopped when Jarvis dropped to his knees before her and motioned her to come closer.
Tentatively a young Emma moved towards the older man and let him slip his arm around her shoulders. She was trying to get control of the overwhelming feelings that she felt by being so close to him. She was not a child and she was always surrounded by young men, but they were men who’d been working with her father for years. They were like brothers and she felt brotherly towards them. This man was new to her and he felt like… it was hard to say what he felt like. Emma had always struggled with the right words for coming to realize she was growing up. She could see the proper word now though: This man felt like spring to her and her body reacted to him as if he was the new spring and she was a new bloom.
He pointed towards the new moon. “Do you see her Emma?”
Emma looked up at the moon and wondered who she was supposed to be seeing. “I’m not sure. Am I looking for the lady in the moon?” It was a fair question for her. She’d been raised with tales of the woman who lived within the moon when it was cold and behind it when the weather warmed. Her grandmother spoke often of this nameless woman.
Jarvis shook his head. “No. Your lady in the moon is a child’s fairy tale. You’re too old for fairy tales. Artames is the moon and the goddess and you can see her face in it now if you look real hard. Soon she will be here. Soon she’ll teach you things you’re going to need to know. She’s going to help me.”
The man had looked into Emma’s young eyes and she felt drawn in and slightly fearful at the same time. Had she been more thoughtful, or even older, she would have known there was something brewing behind those eyes that she should have warned her father about.
Young Emma had smiled and nodded though, slowly pulling herself from the man’s arm and taking steps backwards away from him. “She’s beautiful Jarvis. I look forward to meeting her.” She didn’t say this because she understood him or she was getting that silent warning. She said it because she was turning into a young woman and she was becoming too overwhelmed by the strange feelings he was making her feel. She just wanted to get away from him so she could take a breath –so her heart could stop racing.
Even though it seemed rude, she turned away from him and quickly moved back to the circle of tents where she felt at ease again. When she looked back the architect was once again standing and staring up at the moon.
Miss Emma’s mind snapped back to the present where she was once again a very old woman who was not questioning things to come but pondering how things had come to be. It was an old memory that rarely came to her these days. It was one of those memories she’d have to share with her great niece one day. But in that moment she didn’t want to start down the road of those harder tales. So she let her lips swell into a smile again and she shrugged her shoulders at the young woman and tried to get back to enjoy the beautiful night.
“So many names Emmers. Artames was one from my youth. But I really prefer the full flower moon. I think it nicely represents the spring and the hopefulness of the spring moon…”
Snapdragon Tea and its characters are copyright Bethalynne Bajema. All Rights Reserved