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Full Frontal 28/08/2014

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Long Emergency, Mundane, Urbanism, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: As it likely would be for even the most cursory sky-watcher, it is a special occasion when one has the opportunity to see both Venus and Jupiter in the predawn firmament. It instigates enough of a charge to make a return to sleep an impossibility: For one thing, it got me pondering how unusual it is for Venus and Jupiter–the “benefics”–to travel together concurrently with Mars and Saturn–the “malefics,” now visible after sundown–doing likewise.

Getting outside at dawn also enabled me to discover this little marvel:

IMG_2045

(That’s a bumblebee hanging on to the underside of a leaf on the anise hyssop plant, having spent the night there, apparently. A revelation to me.)

The morning’s visual beauties and wonders were inadequate, however, to prevent recalling one of the more salient sections in the latest posting on John Michael Greer’s Archdruid Report, titled “Dark Age America: The Population Implosion”: “the long-term consequences of industrial America’s frankly brainless dumping of persistent radiological and chemical poisons . . . changes to the North American continent that will endure straight through the deindustrial dark age ahead, and will help shape the history of the successor cultures that will rise amid our ruins.”

It’s the sort of thought that rears its ugly head whenever I reflect on the prospects for human life in Dark Age Minnesota–or whatever it’s called by its denizens. Even now, one only needs to enter the exurbs of the Twin Cities to cross into the zone of industrial agricultural contamination, where some of the world’s richest soil has been converted within a century and a half into a mere substrate designed for seeding with laboratory-engineered “plants” hatched and grown within a slurry of petrochemicals. (Within that radius, of course, the soils–not to mention the air and water–are different types of stews, producing different effects upon its inhabitants.)

So I find myself wondering what fraction of the current population could survive here once industrial agriculture fully founders, leaving its attendant diseases in its wake.

 

This week, though, amidst that internal noise, I’ve been enjoying the shift in atmospheric fronts. First a warm southern one, then a cooler and dryer northern one.

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t seem to make myself try to get much done when the atmosphere is muggy.

It wasn’t that last week was hot: not at all, at least around here. Oh, the techno-weather guys got all in a flutter about nasty heat and heat indexes (indices?) scheduled to threaten our very lives on the 21st and 24th.

Didn’t happen. Not even close. The cloudy shroud persisted, and the abnormally low number (two!) of ninety-degree temperature days for the season held steady.

However, the weather was not quite as this prognosticator figured: “warming, dry, windy.” Correct on the first item, wrong on the second: The damp air that accompanied the warm front enabled localized showers and thundershowers to pop up on several days. And the wind stirred only before those showers rolled through. Otherwise, the days seemed to drag on underneath a nearly suffocating blanket.

To illustrate: On the 23rd, a day with no showers, I hand-washed and wrung out five or six shirts and at noon hung them on the line outside to dry. Six hours later, all of them were still wet, not merely damp. Admittedly, the line is not in the sunniest of spots: the sun’s arc sinking lower. But still . . .

So through the murky days I put off one outdoor project: clearing and seeding with a ground cover (hairy vetch, Vicia villosa) this season. The sisters were hampered a bit, despite my efforts, I’m convinced, by the relatively poor soil where the three-years-gone elm tree’s root system remains underground. The idea is get the vetch started fixing nitrogen this season and at the start of next season, then cut it down and plant vegetables. This week for that project.

Another: putting spigots on the rain barrels. Dipping in the watering can–gotta give those cucumber and squash plants some moisture so they can inflate, right?–and lifting it out again is a shoulder-killer. Gotta quit doing that. But that task requires empty barrels, and they’re full again. Oh well, no hurry: sometime before the snow flies.

There’s a big difference between Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius and Saturn-ruled Capricorn, the signs on the lower meridian in the lunation charts for these past two weeks, respectively.

Sagittarius is a fire sign, thus indicative generally of warm and dry conditions. That’s what we had for the week of the warm front.

For this week of the New Moon, we have cooler, wetter Capricorn.

It’s actually been a refreshing week, up to today, when storms threaten. It was striking to note the cooler air on the morning of New Moon day, the twenty-fifth, as the New Moon was near the lower meridian of the season chart. The next morning was cooler still: fifty-nine degrees at sunup, with a high temperature that day of only about seventy.

I was tempted to use the word autumnal, but I held back: I expect a generally warm–and dryer–fall for this region: a shift in the pattern in place since the start of last winter. (Jupiter in fire-sign Leo near the lower meridian is a potent feature of the season chart.)

As these weather fronts moved north and then south, I found myself awakening one morning to this phenomenon as comparable to a military operation. I found myself reflecting on the tragedy of two men in Ferguson, Missouri: a young black man walking in the street and a white policeman who became his killer. And I found myself reflecting on the military invasion and occupation of Ferguson: an expression of aggressive Mars and intimidating Saturn marching together in Mars’ own sign of relentless Scorpio.

And I recalled the timing of the previous domestic military occupation: the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013. Mars was in his other sign, quick-acting Aries, along with the Sun, “exalted” in that sign.

In an era when America is in the early stages of bringing its empire home, it is chilling to ponder when and where might be the next incident to provoke another demonstration of might against America’s own–and practice for a broader uprising.

It is disturbing–to say the least–to recognize how this nation has built arenas of alienation. As Charles Marohn has put it in his “Stroad Nation” piece:

“It’s obvious that our platform for building places is creating dynamics primed for social upheaval. The auto-oriented development pattern is a huge financial experiment with massive social, cultural and political ramifications. . . . What I see with Ferguson is a suburb deep into the decline phase of the Suburban Ponzi Scheme.”

And as America discovered in the 1960s, there are a great many places primed to erupt.

Read Marohn’s piece, and awaken a bit more.

For truly, these are times that try (wo)men’s souls.

-<zoidion>-

Floods of the Super Moon 16/08/2014

Posted by zoidion in Event, urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s been a pleasant week with unusually cool mornings here–until today’s murky, muggy dawn–since the rain came in through the night following the Full Moon on the 10th. The rain brought some relief, as this region had begun to have a parched look about it. Even so, there was considerable variation in precipitation: My gauge registered 0.66 inch–enough to fill my rain barrels again–while locations on the other side of town reported only a tenth of an inch.

It’s been a week of harvest here on the urban homestead. Noting the evidence of a nighttime marauder–well, okay, an opportunist–I plucked the remaining corn from their stalks. Noticing the preponderance of sagging clusters of dark berries on the two elderberry bushes, I plucked them too: over seventeen pounds. Torn between this project and that, I spent last evening starting the wine-making process. Carpe diem.

Not harvesting this year, I still looked with satisfaction at the first flowers on the groundnut (Apios americana) vines–I placed a few roots in the ground four months ago. Next year, they will need a trellis. And the year after that, I can start digging some tubers.

IMG_1982

There were dramatic and destructive rains elsewhere, in widely separated regions.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) blog has an excellent summary, “Too Much Rain,” on major rainfall events on the days surrounding the Full (Super) Moon of August, with the Moon at perigee.

In my summer forecast, published here on 12 June, I anticipated “major storms in the high plains and Rocky Mountain region” during the week beginning with the First Quarter Moon on 3 August. Where did I get that? From the very heavy configuration Jupiter-Mercury-Sun in Leo in square to Mars-Moon-Saturn in Scorpio, with Saturn at the upper meridian through the specified region.

And lo and behold, the storms occurred like astro-clockwork. The linked article states: “On Friday night and early Saturday morning two rounds of heavy thunderstorms hit Kearney, NE. CoCoRaHS observers in and around Kearney reported from, 2.35 to 3.89 inches of rain for the 24 hours ending Saturday morning. Most of it fell in a span of a little more than three hours from 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.”

At 11:00 p.m. on Friday the 8th, Moon in Capricorn was upon the ascendant of the First Quarter chart calculated for Kearney: time to unleash the forces gathering since Moon crossed (actually, occulted: a phenomenon with more severe implications) Saturn on the morning of the 4th.

1Q Aug2014_transits08082014

Venus’ place (in water sign Cancer) on the western horizon of the First Quarter chart was further evidence of the availability of abundant moisture, and so the rainfall continued approximately until Moon passed the opposition to Venus at 3:09 a.m. local time.

But Saturn and Venus are not the only planetary signatures for rain.

Witness what happened in Detroit, where up to six-plus inches of rain fell during the night and day following the Super Moon–and where for some time there have been legal and police battles involving the municipal water supply. Detroit was under a double planetary whammy: Saturn on the ascendant and Neptune near the lower meridian of the Full Moon chart.

FM-Aug2014_Detroit

Notice that one of the meteorological features of the situation there was a “stationary low pressure wave”: a Saturn effect.

Next on the agenda: the Baltimore-Washington area, where one location recorded over ten inches of rain.

But the rainfall prize from the Super Moon was reserved for Islip, on New York’s Long Island: 13.57 inches of rain: a new state record. There, Saturn was seven degrees from the ascendant, but Neptune was exactly on the lower meridian (the most potent place) of the Full Moon chart. (The Moon reached Neptune at 7:26 p.m. on Monday the 11th: The deluge came during the thirty-six hours following.)

FM-Aug2014_Islip_transits

Decades ago, he was so right: He had put in the decades of study and observation to speak with authority. I refer to George J. McCormack, who laboriously produced on his typewriter a small number of his Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting. Seeking (in vain) acceptance from the community of measuring-instrument weather forecasters, he avoided dramatic language. But he had no inclination to minimize the dangers:

The keynotes of Neptune’s influence weatherwise are variability, low visibility, ascending air currents, prevalent southerly winds, lower barometer, humidity, excessive static and vacuums in the higher air strata that often prove hazardous for aviation. . . . this planet induces the heaviest downpours in the shortest space of time.

Bingo, Gee Jay.

-<zoidion>-

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