A platinum-bright October moon was already high in the sky when I went out to retrieve the mail, trash barrel, and recyclables bin the other evening. I paused midway up the hill to watch it slip along through the darkness beyond the tall sycamore's tangle of leafy branches. If you've never been able to detect the moon's movement during such casual observations, you've simply never stood still long enough to carefully watch—of course I suppose it says something about me and my susceptibility to impromptu inertia that I regularly notice the moon's astronomical slow creep.
On this night the moon was half-full, and reminded me of the slices of candied citron my mother always put in her Christmas fruit cakes. I saw, too, that it was encircled by a halo, a misty, pinkish-purple glowing ring caused by the refraction of light shining through ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. Country lore says a moon ring's appearance indicates a spell of bad weather is on the way. And that is often—though not always—the case. But hey, even the National Weather Service with all its latest and greatest technology doesn't get it right all the time.
It is also said that if you count the number of stars you see shining within the circle of the moon ring, it will correspond to the number of days until the storm arrives. I didn't remember to do this until after I'd continued on up to the road, collected the day's mail, retrieved barrel and bin, rolled and lugged the receptacles to their storage spot near the back door, deposited the mail on the hallway counter, washed my hands, and gone back outside armed with the camera for a quick shot. By that time the halo had faded. So, no star count, only a photo.
At this point, from just across the nearby river, a great blue heron suddenly cut loose with a series of guttural imprecations which left no doubt as to what he thought of all my comings and goings that were apparently disturbing his sleep. The mouthy bird continued rasping expletives at me as he flew a hundred yards upstream.
I don't know if moon rings are trustworthy oracles…but I do know offended herons never go quietly.