Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Anyone up for some Lycanthropy?

The full moon is bright tonight. Outside, the air is that perfect temperature (about 20 C) that makes walking at night so comfortable. It's just cool enough that it's refreshing, but still warm enough that there's no urge to add more clothes. Indeed, the kids two doors up seem to have shed their clothes entirely! I guess they're taking this full moon thing pretty seriously.

At any rate, I'm aware of just how nice an evening it is because I just got back from our regular walk (that's me and all these dogs I'm taking care of.) I've got two of my own and I've been looking after my brother's Golden Retriever for the last three weeks.

Taking care of three big dogs in the city is a challenge, especially here in Hamilton. This summer, the city has decided that the thing to do is to give out tickets to people if they let their dog off its leash. So they've been out in force in their white vans, driving around in the parks handing out tickets. That's right...they drive those vans right through the parks! Talk about ironic. They're so worked up about my dogs possibly leaving behind some personal calling cards that these guys have to whip around in their vans to prevent it.

It wouldn't be so frustrating if there were any off-leash areas close by. But Hamilton doesn't seem to like that idea. All the parks and trails are off-limits for dogs. The only off-leash areas are in Ancaster, Dundas and Burlington. Oh, and one way on the outskirts of Hamilton, on the way to Lake Erie, for crying out loud.

But enough of my troubles. Because I'm worried about bothering anyone else with my dogs, I tend to walk them early in the morning and late at night. Not only is it pretty deserted around here, but the weather is a lot more bearable as well. Tonight was a beautiful night, and the light of the moon made it really easy to track down those doggie deposits for my plastic baggies. Oh, the things we do for our animals!

But now to the point of my post (as if I have one!) I noticed the full moon on my walk and it got me to wondering about all the stuff you hear about people going nuts on the full moon and the emergency wards filling up, etc. So when I got back, I spent some time searching around for some interesting articles. My title refers, of course, to Lycanthropy, which, in folklore, according to Wikipedia, is:
...the ability or power of a human being to undergo transformation into a wolf. The term comes from ancient Greek lykanthropos (λυκάνθροπος): lykos ("wolf") + anthropos ("man").

I didn't run into any werewolves, but there were some pretty strange people hanging out over at the park. They scattered when I showed up with three big dogs, though.

But what about those urban myths about hospital emergency wards being so full and wierd stuff on full moon evenings?

It appears that science may have debunked that myth as well. According to a study called "The full moon and admission to emergency rooms" reported in the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences:
...the number of trauma patients was not increased during the full moon days against other days of lunar month. Statistical analyses of data didn't exhibit a positive relation between full moon days and increasing of trauma patient admission to ERs. An association between assault and attempted suicide was not observed around the full moon days either.

Darn! There goes that theory!

And here's another story about some studies that debunk the idea that people party heartier, kill each other and suffer more dog bites when the moon is full.

Oh well. I'm not even sure that tonight is a full moon. According to a complicated formula used to decide when the full moon happens, the moon is supposed to be full on July 21. Which is now. But I don't know whether it's supposed to be right now, or tomorrow (or rather today, but this evening...if you see what I mean.) I'm starting to get a bit silly here, aren't I? It doesn't really matter. The moon is as big as an elephant's eye...that's about all I know.

That wraps up my science lesson for tonight. I'm going to go sit out on the back deck and listen to the music wafting over from the neighbours' place. Whether it's because of the full moon or not, they seem to have a great party going. I'm too old to join in, but I can still enjoy the ambience. And I'll keep a close watch out for werewolves.

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