Thirteen Moons

From Thirteen Moons on Turtle's Back:  A Native American Year of Moons:


"Many Native American people look at Turtle's back as a sort of calendar, with its pattern of thirteen large scales standing for the thirteen moons in each year."

These pages from the book are perfect for this time of year; we are bridging from one time to another and noticing that many things are happening in our natural world.  I am grateful for the work of both the original tellers and the people who have more recently recorded these ideas in a poetic format.


Moose-Calling Moon (Ninth Moon – Micmac)


In this season when leaves

begin to turn color,

we go down to the lakes

and with birch-bark horns

make that sound which echoes

through the spruce trees,

the call of a moose

looking for a mate:




If we wait there,

Patient in our canoes,

The Moose will come.

His great horns are flat

Because, long ago,

before people came,

Gloos-kap asked the Moose

what he would do

when he saw human beings.

"I will throw them up high

on my sharp horns," Moose said.

So Gloos-kap pushed his horns

Flatter and made him smaller.

"Now, Moose," he said, "you will not

want to harm my people."

So the Moose comes and stands,

Strong as the northeast wind.

He looks at us, then

we watch him disappear

back into the willows again.

Joseph Bruchac and Jonathan London

Illustrated by Thomas Locker

Moon of Falling Leaves  (Tenth Moon – Cherokee)


Long ago, the trees were told

They must stay awake

seven days and nights,

but only the cedar,

the pine and the spruce

stayed awake until

that seventh night.

The reward they were given

was to always be green

while all the other trees

must shed their leaves.

So, each autumn, the leaves

of the sleeping trees fall.

They cover the floor

of our woodlands with colors

as bright as the flowers

that come with the spring.

The leaves return the strength

of one more year's growth

to the earth.

This journey

the leaves are taking

is part of that great circle

which holds us all close to the earth.

Joseph Bruchac and Jonathan London

Illustrated by Thomas Locker