From the Publisher

Harvest Time

It was late summer, and I was enjoying a much-anticipated, carefree   Saturday afternoon. My only plan was to check out a few of my favorite haunts, seek out a treasure or two and come home refreshed by the experience.

Soon enough, I discovered the fall decorations had already popped up in most of the gift and novelty shops. Just inside their front doors, shoppers (like me) were coming face-to-face with lavish displays of plastic pumpkins and scarecrows. Painted wooden signs were scattered among the colorful mix. “Harvest Time” messages were bountiful.
But, it was 98 degrees outside (still summer, for sure), so I passed on the charming, rush-the-season embellishments.
My visit to a couple of department stores re-confirmed the obvious:  Retailers are much like scout leaders; they believe in being prepared. The clothing racks held nothing but wool skirts, dresses, jackets and coats. The table displays were heavy laden with knitted sweaters, gloves and caps. And, I kid you not, a couple of signs that read, “Harvest Time,” were scattered about.
Walking away, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What’s up with all these ‘Harvest Time’ signs in Houston?” 
At the grocery store, similar cool-weather scenes were present. Here, the emphasis was on the crops of the coming season. Again, pumpkins – of all shapes, sizes and textures – took center stage. And, now, as expected, there were “Harvest Time” signs for the taking. (Well, actually, for the buying.)
That night, while watching TV, I heard a news anchor mention the Harvest Moon. Influenced by all the “harvest” messages I had seen that day, I was curious about the Harvest Moon and why it was getting the star attention. Thanks to Google, I learned a lot.
• The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. It appears early in the evening - just when the days are getting shorter. It is considered to be the brightest and biggest full moon of the year. 
• The Harvest Moon coincides with the fall harvest season in the Northern                Hemisphere, giving rise to traditional celebrations. A number of East and Southeast Asian cultures celebrate a festival around the harvest moon that is among their year’s most important holidays. Traditions include family reunions, moon gazing and sharing moon cakes, traditional round pastries with a variety of sweet fillings.  
• In Chinese culture, roundness symbolizes completeness and togetherness.                      A full moon symbolizes prosperity and reunion. 
“Wow,” I thought, “All good things to know!”
Then, I remembered Neil Young’s song, Harvest Moon, and felt compelled to listen to the tune right then. I did, and afterwards, I made a mental note to watch for the Harvest Moon to appear on September 27. Suddenly, I was more than a tiny bit eager to see its blood red color and celebrate - along with the rest of the world - its early rising.
Next day, I went shopping again. This time, I stocked up on all things “harvest.” I bought pumpkins and gourds and Indian corn. I bought a handsome-looking scarecrow and one of those familiar wooden signs extolling the approaching season! Then, for the first time ever, I bought a box of moon cakes - enough to feed a festive gathering of friends and family (should I decide to host a party). 
Clearly, retailers and Girl Scout leaders are right; it’s best to be prepared!