A rich collection of an author’s knowledge, experience

Review: “A Year of Moons: Stories from the Adirondack Foothills” by Joseph Bruchac

Saratoga Springs author Joseph Bruchac’s new book, “A Year of Moons: Stories from the Adirondack Foothills,” is a delightful meditation on the seasons.

Tapping into his Abenaki heritage, Bruchac leads the reader through the calendar, from the “Alamikos, New Year’s Greeting Moon,” to the “Pebonkas, Moon of Long Nights.” For each moon/chapter, the prolific author (Bruchac’s written over 100 books), shares Abenaki stories he heard as a youth, the lunar traditions of other Indigenous people, scientific information about wildlife, as well as his own seasonal experiences and observations.

It’s a mistake, however, to think of Bruchac as only an Abenaki author. He has degrees from Cornell and Syracuse universities. He taught in Ghana for a few years when he was a young man. He marched with Martin Luther King for civil rights and protested the Vietnam war. His experience, his interests and his respect for others are global.

A warm expression of that global gathering of people and art is Bruchac’s incorporation of at least one haiku in each chapter. His chapter on the April moon, for example, ends with: “Gold dandelions/Push up from the old road’s edge/Welcoming the Sun.”

I don’t know if my special affection for the author’s writing of the “Sogalikas: Maple Syrup Moon” was affected by when I read it. The maple season here in the Champlain Valley and Adirondacks is such a strong unleashing of energy and relief that the freezing is ending, reading this chapter in March was an almost aromatic sensory experience. Of course, Bruchac writes just as well about all the months, including June’s strawberries and December’s long nights.

“A Year of Moons” is a rich, eclectic combination of what Bruchac has seen and learned over a long life. (He even introduced me to a new genre of humor: taxidermy jokes.) He tells of that life in a gentle storyteller’s voice, the kind one listens to at a table in a pub or sitting around a campfire.


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