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Rude Moves 12/04/2014

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: A windy rain greeted the day, but it didn’t amount to much: not quite a tenth of an inch. The week has been generally dry, and most of it mild: more pleasant than expected. 

On the ninth, the temperature reached seventy degrees for the first time since October. By then only the biggest or shadiest piles of snow had anything left of them.

In my neighborhood there has been little observable garden-related activity, since ornamentals are the usual thing: It’s too early in the season for that. But among my community, the week’s shift to a run of warmer weather was a signal to get started outdoors. First order of business: a closer inspection of perennials. It was exciting to note a number of plants showing life: thyme, sorrel, goldenrod, day lilies, bee balm, currants.

I put my new soil thermometer to use on the ninth, testing half a dozen of my sunniest spots. The results were somewhat surprising: Even with a light covering of leaves, the soil registered forty-five to forty-eight degrees. Warm enough for cole crops.

When I sent that news to my group, one friend responded: Time to come and get your perennials. The next day, I brought back many little roots of Giant solomon’s seal and root clumps of New England aster and blue vervain, and got them in the ground. Not without some extra effort: The shady area for the solomon’s seal was snow-free but still mostly frozen. I hope they don’t mind the rude move.

Weather wise at least, nothing particularly unusual or concerning has been going on around here. 

But more and more people are talking about and testifying against Enbridge pipeline company notions  of increasing the flow rate and pressure in its pipes (plus replacing an old pipe and constructing an additional one) that cross the Mississippi River–thereby increasing the chances of a catastrophic spill. 

In the midst of that prospect, a small blip on the local news scene made mention of a City of Minneapolis application to drill a deep well: apparently as a backup, since the City’s and its suburbs’ drinking, flushing and lawn water comes from the river. That project will likely highlight increasing competition for water with the state’s hefty agricultural interests, and sharpen the rhetorical divide between the demands of the metro area and “outstate.”

Nearly on the opposite side of the world, the climate and resource situation in Australia continues becoming more extreme. After a summer season marked by searing heat and widespread wildfires, early autumn has seen a major tropical cyclone strike the northeast coast of the province of Queensland. The storm, named Ita, reached shore at about nine p.m. on the eleventh, with sustained winds rated at 145 miles per hour  and torrential rains along an extended stretch of the coast.

The relevant charts–beginning with the season chart for the affected area–illustrate the need to consult several to comprehend (or anticipate) an event of such a magnitude. The 21 March 2014 chart shows the sign Taurus–by itself an indication of a generally placid and temperate period–on the lower meridian, with no planets therein to modify such a general forecast. However, Taurus’ ruling planet, Venus, signifying precipitation, is approximately ninety degrees away from the meridian and close to the ascendant (horizon). Thus, both longitude (meridian) and latitude (ascendant) are indicated.

In addition, there’s the nasty combination of Moon and Saturn near the upper meridian, and (not shown) the zodiacal place of the solar eclipse of 3 November 2013 only one degree from the meridian.

Aries Ingress 2014-AUS

The current lunation chart is a confirming zinger: The area is in the cross-hairs composed of Sun (with Uranus) opposite Mars–a very violent combination–plus the Moon (exactly on the upper meridian) with Jupiter, both opposite Pluto.

1Q April 2014-AUS

At first glance, the chart for the latest sign-change of Mercury (symbol of wind) seems less than dramatic for the location: Neither Mercury nor any other planet is particularly close to meridian or horizon.

Mercury Aries 2014-AUS

However, the signs and degrees for meridian and horizon are nearly identical to those in the season chart. That identifies the fifteen-day Mercury-in-Aries period as the one with the greatest wind impact on the region.

The timing for Ita’s landfall is one deserving of future reference: The Moon (the hour hand on the cosmic clock) was exactly opposite both Venus (rain) and Neptune (flood), with that axis at a tight right angle to the local horizon.

Cyclone Ita landfall

All charts taken together, one can recognize cross-hairs in both space and time.


Two-Thirds Right 05/04/2014

Posted by zoidion in urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The light outside is blinding, the sunlight bouncing off the April snow. But the air is mild, the breeze a caress.The snowmelt is running in the streets, the rain barrel is overflowing.

The social highlight of the week for me was the open house–right in the neighborhood–at Mississippi Mushrooms. I much enjoyed seeing a bit of the operation, and seeing and tasting some of the product–also feeling the excitement of being part of a small crowd of folks who are interested in and supporting the further emergence of locally produced foods.

I think I have–or imagine I do–few illusions about any complete wonderfulness of local life fed exclusively, or nearly so, by locally produced foods: I figure it involves less quantity and less variety. I’m working on changing before I absolutely have to. (I know I would miss avocados, for example. I know it’s a luxury that will before long pass away.) But I’m convinced such efforts are a good step toward a healthier way of living on the land: toward an ecotechnic future.

Part of what made that occasion enjoyable was a conversation I had with the proprietor of another local mushroom business, mostly about my own home-growing mushroom ideas and that of inoculating the soil here with soil from a presumably-healthy forest outside the cities. From the response I’ve heard from him and others, I’m hearing confirmation that it’s a good soil-building idea.

But it requires soil that has thawed.

There was so much hoopla in the local weather media about the expected Big Storm that arrived on Thursday the third that it nearly overshadowed the glorious ends of the week. In my previous post, I mentioned the warm and dry Sunday that brought herds of urban bears out of hibernation; it definitely fit in with my general forecast for the week.

Not that I had any notions that that would hold. Such things rarely happen around here in April. But I had a hard time believing all the warnings that we were about to get buried in snow again, just as the ground was starting to warm up under the Sun. I just wasn’t seeing it in the charts, which I kept going over and over.

I could see in the season chart–the Aries solar ingress–the timing of the sharp turn from warm to cold: the Sun (the day indicator) catching up to Uranus’ place in the season chart. And I could see in the week chart–the Aries New Moon–a strong indication of generally dry and somewhat warmer conditions: Mars on the lower meridian.

New Moon 2 March 2014

But I wasn’t seeing significant moisture. And yet it came: especially welcome in the Minnesota River valley, still within the drought zone.


About eight inches of snow (about three-quarters of an inch of melted moisture) fell at my place, up to a foot and more to the north and northwest. An event that I should / could have anticipated. But how?

The Venus-Moon-Saturn configuration in this season’s chart–the same combination as appeared in the September 2013 season chart (the Libra solar ingress)–foretold persistent and problematic  precipitation–how’s my alliteration?–and cold-weather patterns . . . in certain areas. (Not through this zone of longitude.) On Wednesday the second–the day the storm was organizing–Moon moved into Taurus, triggering the configuration in the season chart. It seems that was the bit of the puzzle I missed.

I’d figured that any significant precipitation would arrive around the time that Moon arrived at the ascendant of the season chart, on Sunday the fifth.

Instead, the storm was at full strength by about six p.m. on the third, when Moon was exactly ninety degrees from Neptune, which is prominent on the upper meridian of the season chart.

Let’s watch what happens when Venus arrives at Neptune’s place (and Moon opposes Neptune) on Thursday the tenth: Rather than a nuisance and a disappointment, the media are apt to have major problems to report, and major challenges in getting and conveying the story.

As for me, I may have learned something here. Let’s see if it sticks.

Meanwhile, Down Under, summer appears to be lasting longer and more intensely than wished: Melbourne swelters through record April warmth. Note that the season’s astromap shows the hot zone–where Mars is on the lower meridian–running north-south through the center of Australia.





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