Chasing the Harvest Moon

September 22, 2021 —
On the last night of summer, we chased the harvest moon. Lindsey’s idea. A sudden idea. An hours-before idea. She wanted to photograph it. The harvest moon. The problem? We needed to see it close to the horizon. When it still reflected the golden desperation of the dying sun. If the moon got too high, it would be a mere full moon, pallid and bright. A mere full moon.

We knew a farm in a neighboring town that could work. Open land. Plenty of sky. Some hills to elevate our vantage. We had time before night fell and moon rose, so we stopped at a graveyard and wandered among the stones. An old graveyard. A fantastic graveyard. One that would look magical silhouetted against a harvest moon. If it had been on a hill. It wasn’t.

At the farm, we walked past the cornfield, where a tractor was taking down rows in the distance. We heard a sound coming from somewhere in front of us. An evil, grating sound. Lindsey thought it might be a groundhog. Asked me to walk in front in case it was hiding in the tall weeds washing around our shins. She makes me go first in haunted attractions, too.

“He’s friendly!” The phrase was shouted across the field like a threat. A large yellow lab with a bell dangling and clanging from its collar bounded to us like we hadn’t seen each other in a long time instead of ever. We scratched his head and ears until he bounded back to his owners like he hadn’t seen them in a long time instead of seconds ago. The thing in the weeds started screeching again.

We made it to the apple orchard. Jamaican men on ladders harvested apples from the ugly bushes we call apple trees. A white pickup parked in the orchard held two large cardboard boxes full of small pumpkins. The sides of the boxes were printed with the Peanuts gang waiting for the Great Pumpkin. That’s when we discovered the source of the wicked sound. A tape gun, wielded to bind boxes to fill with apples.

Past the orchard, we climbed a hill covered by a pumpkin patch. Orange globes dotted the green vines. Some big. Some tiny. Some not even pumpkins, white gourds in the field. More Great Pumpkin boxes on pallets lined the dirt path, full of lumpy harvested orange.


We found our spot. Just past a burgeoning orchard and down another slope of pumpkin patch, forested hills in the far distance. We fixed our eyes on where the moon would rise and waited.

The breeze picked up, rustling apple tree branches and pumpkin vine leaves. Chilly. The sun set behind us in a violence of yellow and pink, while in front of us the sky steadied into a dim blue twilight.


And then we saw it. A bright orange edge pushing up behind a hill like the top of an explosion. It moved startlingly fast, like the entire satellite was rolling over the hill. It became a half moon in what seemed like seconds. Lindsey started taking photos, harvesting the moon with her camera as she kneeled and squinted and twisted its barrel.

Soon, faster than we thought the moon could move, it cleared the horizon. A big orange pumpkin of a moon above the pumpkin-patch forest of the hills.

It’s like I had never seen the moon before. And maybe I hadn’t.

Eventually, both her camera and our autumn yearnings sated, we retraced our steps in the darkness. Back through apple trees and pumpkin mounds, cornfield and weeds. The apple harvesters were leaving in their trucks, but the corn harvester continued felling the stalks caught in his tractor headlights. The mere full moon was high at our backs before we realized that we had chased a harvest moon through an actual harvest.