Some habits die hard…!

We stood in the big meadow, that evening long ago, watching the new moon rise, my Grandfather and I. It was a fine evening, but cold, and my Mother had yet to finish work and pick me up to go home for tea.

My Grandfather had put a few pennies in my duffle coat pocket, and my little hands were holding them now. Big round pennies. I knew I needed 12 to make a shilling, we had gone over that earlier, in the farm house while dusk fell. He’d got out his Father’s abacus too and promised to teach me how to use it. I could already count up to ten, and all this before I went to school.

So there we were in the darkness, waiting for the clouds to clear so we could see the moon. I had been instructed to turn the pennies in my pocket over as I looked to the moon, but only when she had ‘her new horns’. This had confused me a little, as far as I knew the moon had no horns!

Then a gap in the clouds came, and the moon shone down upon us, turning the pennies in our pockets over as we looked at Her. “That’ll bring us good luck!” He said quietly to me, “For the next month, until we see her again, new and with her horns, you see ’em now?” I could, the moon really did have horns, one at each end. Grinning, I nodded, my pennies turned. Good Luck was mine, but what was a month I asked. With his quiet humour he explained, a month was from the new moon to the new moon, twenty eight days in all, but in the world of men, because they thought there were not enough days in a month, they’d put in a few extra, and a month was thirty or thirty one days, except for February which had twenty eight, unless it was a leap year when it was twenty nine. We were slowly walking back to the house now, the torch lighting our way, and while I listened, I did not understand it all… the only bit I did understand was the fact that man had added to the twenty eight days in a month.

It would be later when he taught me the verse that used to be printed on the back page of school exercise books:

Thirty days hath September,April, June, and November;Of twenty-eight there is but one,And all the rest have thirty-one.
Fast forward fifty or so years and it’s new moon yet again, and tonight I have been out turning the pennies over in my pocket,as I gazed up at the new moon. Only they are now decimal currency and ten make 10p not 1/-, and fifty years have pasted by, but I still follow the age old tradition, taught to me all those years ago on the farm, when ever I see the moon with her new horns, to bring me good luck. Words and photo ©Cymraes2009



One thought on “Some habits die hard…!

  1. Really evocative post this one – I was taught the same verse about the months as a small child on a forest reserve in colonial Rhodesia, sitting under a coral tree with the new moon high above Inyangani Mountain, the mountain of the ancestral ‘nyangas’ or wise teachers/diviners. I also came away with two worlds imprintd in my psyche, the older nature-loving one and the world ‘out there’ of added days in the month.

    Hugs to you Cymraes

    Mary in Africa

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