Bulan Lapar

Okay, I know that’s not really how you say it.

My friend on Twitter, my kawan, @Arzai is Malaysian. She’s read Petals and Thorns, which gives me such a kick, that this lovely woman all the way in Malaysia has read my story. She kind of shakes her head at my enthusiasm and says that she’s certain many people in Malaysia have read it, that Malaysia, after all, is a very big place. But she’s the one I know about and I get all pleased thinking about it.

Last night she was teaching me Malay words and phrases on Twitter. I asked her for full moon (bulan penuh), since I knew this would be my morning post. I then asked if Hunger Moon would be bulan lapar, since she’d already taught me that “lapar” is hungry. She didn’t think that would be right. Then she came back and asked what “Hunger Moon” means.

I had to explain that it’s not really English, either. That the full moon names are English translations of Native American concepts. In this case, the moon itself isn’t hungry, but that this is the moon that’s full during the time of hunger. It’s still deep winter here, I told her, and though spring is coming, it will be a while before the plants grow again. This is the time when stores grown thin.

She said she’d learned something and I realized what a cultural difference that is. Even though our replete grocery stores keep us fed year-around now, we still have those underlying concepts, from our frontier ancestors and native neighbors, that winter is a time of privation. Something those in the tropics don’t experience in the same way.

So, here’s to the Hunger Moon, that rises over the mountains in Santa Fe and the beaches in Malaysia.

And to the ways we connect, great and small, across our little world.