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The Last Time 17/02/2017

Posted by zoidion in History, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: Only in the shady places do any remnants of December’s snows persist, as the air temperature reached sixty degrees.

As I walked about my errand-route, wearing a cap for shade rather than a hat for warmth, I found myself breaking into a sweat: I was wearing one too many layers under my light jacket. 

The physical sensation is accompanied by a peculiar mental one, since the solar arc remains rather low, and daylight is still fairly short. Hard to believe is that this day is only two months since the winter solstice.

In the back yard, several whorls of mullein look as if they are about to don their furry green coats and begin photosynthesis for their second (seed-producing) season. Birds are more active and noisy, chattering and fussing as they perch, hidden, within cedar hedges.

New high-temperature records for the date have been set across southern Minnesota, and the techno-weather forecasters say that more will follow over the next several days.

How rare is this? Well, this is only the fifth time that temperatures have reached sixty degrees here in February, going back to 1873.

The last time there was an extended warm spell here in February, the year was 1981, when six consecutive days registered temperatures of fifty or higher. That period began in the week that included the Full Moon, and as Sol crossed the horizon of the season chart: the axis that relates to latitude.

caping1980_1qfeb1981

Notice that in the outer ring (the first quarter Moon chart) Sol is with the upper meridian symbol (the circle with vertical line). That is a signal for a significant shift in temperature, especially as Luna approached opposition: Indeed, the first record-setting day that year was 16 February, as Luna moved into warm/dry Leo, the zoidion opposite Sol in Aquarius.

Also, Mars — a reliable indicator of warmer and drier conditions — had also recently crossed the horizon.

Not only was the upper meridian for the lunation in the place of the ascendant (shown as the circle with horizontal line) in the season chart, but there was another reversal: the horizon for the lunation opposite the upper meridian for the season. Hence a reversal of seasonal expectations.

And now? The Full Moon chart (the outer ring below) has a similar reversal in relation to the season chart: its upper meridian opposite the season’s ascendant, and the ascendant conjunct the season’s upper meridian.

caping2016_fmfeb2017

This time the warmth has arrived as Luna arrives at the ascendant of the season chart, and as Mars crosses the midpoint between lower meridian and horizon.

Watch for even greater temperature anomalies as Mars closes the distance from Uranus, and opposes Jupiter, in the days around the solar eclipse on 26 February. And watch for greater outbursts in the heating-up political realm as well. (Brazil is a particular hotspot in this period.)

-<zoidion>-

Tull Me Meet Again 09/02/2017

Posted by zoidion in fruit, History, homesteading, Long Emergency, Mundane, Photography, urban agriculture.
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Twin Cities ephemera: What a joyous occasion it was, last week: the start of the gardening season. And how appropriate to be under a Taurus moon, rising over the eastern horizon, as a bright sun on a (unusual) seasonably cold day crossed the zenith. After my labors, after putting away the step-ladder and piling up the clippings, my reward was to doff my hat and loosen my coat to bask in the warmth on the south side of the garage.

The main task was pruning the cherry tree, about to begin its sixth season of growth and fifth of fruiting a few feet away from where the trunk of the huge and contorted elm tree stood. After a brief refresher on principles — consulting the good old Rodale’s All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening (1992) — I had at it, circling the tree, clipping downward- and inward-growing branches and shoots, removing growth that crossed or touched, opening up the space at the center. It was hard work, with hand pruners and small hand-saw: cherry wood is hard, which is why it is prized for making furniture.

Before that, as moon was actually crossing the horizon, I clipped a half-dozen bud-dense shoots from two of the black currant bushes that sit under one of the pear trees. This is a good time to start rooting them indoors, so I can get them in the ground out front two months hence.

They were enjoyable tasks, performed outside, the quiet broken only momentarily by the stupid dog across the street: barking at me, in my own backyard!

The Jethro Tull song “Heavy Horses” came to mind and voice, with images of working animals and simple tools supplanted by fossil-fuel-powered machines. But there’s the reminder of what is timeless:

“And one day when the oil barons have all dripped dry
And the nights are seen to draw colder
They’ll beg for your strength, your gentle power
Your noble grace and your bearing
And you’ll strain once again to the sound of the gulls
In the wake of the deep plough, sharing.”

These days, I’d question the wisdom of the deep plough, but still . . . 

It got me thinking about a moment, long ago, when this country, the USA, in a period of evident crisis shaking its economic foundations, came perhaps closest to acknowledging the nature of its greatest problem: not yet a predicament. Back then, in the late 1970s, the occupant of the Oval Office was someone who seemed to have some grasp of the nature of the “energy crisis”: who saw with some clarity and called on the country to take another path away from disaster.

In Pres. Jimmy Carter’s “crisis of confidence” speech of 15 July 1979, he made statements that ring even more starkly true today:

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

“Sacrifice” — an orphan word in today’s society.

It was not to be. Six months later, Carter stood before Congress in his final “State of the Union” speech and reiterated what had been national policy since at least 1945: The USA would endeavor to be the boss over the disposition of the oil wealth of the Middle East.

Uncanny is how, in several respects, then resembles now, astrologically.

Primary among them, Neptune was then in the first house of the most commonly used “national” chart derived from the sky of 4 July 1776. Neptune had been there since 1973, when the first “energy crisis” hit and the nation was plunged into chaos. The term “malaise” was attached to Carter’s 1979 speech, though he didn’t use the word. But it was apt. Saturn, representing the pressure to face facts, was at a right angle to Neptune (in 1979).

07041776_crisisconfidence

[The calculated time for the speech is speculative.]

Now, Neptune is a quarter-cycle along, and Saturn is in that same first house position: Again, Saturn is at a right angle to Neptune.

In the interval, little has changed, except the country is far deeper in the mire, furiously digging the hole deeper.

Take a look at the outline of the nature of our collective predicament, summarized on Albert Bates’ Peaksurfer blog. But here, to my mind, is the kicker:

“The only problems society does not acknowledge, or discuss, or act on, are the only problems that matter: species extinction, limits to growth, debt, overshoot, resource depletion, climate change, sea level rise, fisheries collapse & ocean acidification, nitrogen imbalance & tree decline.”

It’s a sad story with plenty of supporting evidence.

It’s why there’s a bit of comfort to be found in the music of Jethro Tull, many of the songs having themes of loss and dysfunction. The band named, mind you, after a seventeenth-century agricultural scientist and inventor.

-<zoidion>-

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