Sunday, January 8, 2012

Moon Through Blue Bottles

Cold moon, blue through the bottles dangling in the ash tree as the Wolf Moon--or Moon After Yule or Old Moon, same moon different names--beams white through bare branches.

Here on earth the fire burns white-hot

 and smoke and embers reach for the faraway stars.

Here's a story for you, about the wolf and the moon:


Own day the wolf and the fox were out together, and they stole a dish of a creamy cheese called crowdie. The wolf was the bigger of the two beasts, and in those days he had a long, long tail, a beautiful tail to be sure, and his teeth were long and and sharp.

The fox was more than a little afraid of the wolf, so he said nothing when the wolf ate almost all of the crowdie, leaving just a dab for the fox to lick out of the bottom of the bowl. The fox was angry and he decided to get back at the wolf on the very next night they went out together.

There was a full moon the next time the wolf and fox prowled together. "I smell a very nice cheese," said the fox. There it is. Do you see it?" And he pointed to the moonlight shining on the ice.

"How can we get it?" asked the wolf, licking his lips.

"Here is my plan. You stay here. I will see if the farmer is asleep. Keep your tail on top of the cheese so no one else can see it. Can you do that? I might be gone for a long while."

"Don't be silly! Of course I can do it!" snarled the wolf. And he put his tail on top of the moon's reflection in the ice and held it there for an hour or more. You know what happened, don't you? His tail froze to the ice!

The fox waited until he was sure the wolf's tail was stuck fast to the ice. Then he hurried to the farmer's house and cried, "Look up there! There is the wolf! He is coming to eat you and your children!"

The farmer and his wife ran out of the house with large sticks to kill the wolf, but the wolf saw them coming. He tried to get up but found his tai lwas stuck tight to the ice. He gave a great jerk and ran off, leaving his beautiful tail behind.

That is why to this day the fox has a full bushy tail, but the wolf? Well, now you know why his tail looks as it does.

Based on the story from Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales, by George Douglas,c 1901, and reprinted at

About wolves in Scotland: today there are no wolves in Scotland, and there have not been for centuries. Tales of wolves are noted in writings such as the story above, and there is currently some discussion about reintroducing them in the highlands.For more about the history of wolves in Scotland, check out these links:

For an academic look at the wolf in Scottish legend and lore, "A Noxious Pack" is a  fine read.

Wolf's Tale  from the website Wolves and Humans gives great background information, clips of writings about wolves and a photo found in Scotland of a rock carving of a wolf.

To learn about re-introducing wolves to Scotland, read another page from Wolves and Humans and this article by the BBC.



momalizzie said...

Tragic story, but a beautiful pun intended!!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Presumably dating back to a time when there were wolves in Scotland. We still have foxes of course and they're still regarded as cunning and sly.
If you were searching for puns, Lizzie, you should have said "It was a beautiful TALE with a tragic ending". Sorry!

Rowan said...

Poor Wolf - they are one of my favourite animals so I feel sorry for him:)

Granny Sue said...

John, I wondered about that. I had never heard of wolves in the islands so I went looking it up. I meant to link this article to the post:

I'll add it in this morning, along with a few others.

Marie said...

I just loved your Scottish wolf and fox story! And your photos are wonderful! Thanks for sharing both!

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