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Belt-Tightening Time 19/06/2013

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Climate, Weather.
Tags: , , ,

Twin Cities ephemera: After what has seemed like a season of monsoon rains, it’s now been four days since a general rainfall through the area. Amazing, and yet largely as expected (see previous post).

Last week’s total rainfall was impressive: about three inches. And the anticipated surge in heat on the 15th arrived a day later, with the temperature reaching eighty-four; even then, though, the pull of this season toward cool was dramatically evident: Within a half-hour of noting that level, and spying the first-quarter moon through a hole in the clouds, a gusty shower had dropped the temperature to an even seventy.

On the 15th, I decided to have a look at the farmland at the edge of the belt of exurbs, and so headed west to Watertown, on the Crow River. With open land coming into view, I had to avert my eyes from the mushroom clusters of cul-de-sac tracts and the naked McMansions plunked down on the once-rich prairie. I was there for an eyeball assessment of the state of crops, and that too was ugly.

The amount of acreage that appeared unplanted—due to chronically too-wet soil off-limits to mechanized planting—or with standing water induced a profound sense of shock and unease. Here are two examples:


Many others showed only a slightly buzz-cut look—and this at the midpoint of June, well into the short growing season. It brought home to me how very vulnerable is this region’s food supply—something that the middle and upper classes have long taken for granted. (“Problem solved”—only temporarily.)

And both in town and between towns, yards big and small sported green carpets, most up-to-date in the cutting. Food-crop gardens were the exception to the rule. I shuddered and gaped as I went, recalling weeks of reports of excess water in much of the Mississippi River basin above the Great Confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi.

It seems that most people around here have become so accustomed to record-breaking hot summers that anything but that is inconceivable. But as I began writing more than six months ago, I expect an overall cooler-than-average and relatively dry summer.

In part, that’s because of a degree of continuity between seasons as reflected in a curious astronomical phenomenon. I don’t have a ready explanation, but charts for the same location at the spring equinox (Aries ingress) and summer solstice (Cancer ingress) have the same angles, within four degrees, on the meridian and horizon. (A table for all four ingresses each year for the years 2000 through 2015 confirms it.)

For 2013 at the Twin Cities, that means cool air sign Gemini on the key lower meridian and cold air sign Aquarius on the eastern horizon (or Ascendant). Look at the two charts below:


Thus Mars has replaced Jupiter at the lower meridian, and that means overall a dryer and more violently windy season. Alfred John Pearce provides this summary in The Textbook of Astrology:

“Mars when in an angle at the equinox or solstice promotes evaporation and raises the temperature, causing a drier state of the weather than Jupiter, particularly when in Aries, Leo or Cancer. . . . Mars when in power generally causes such mischief and destruction as are concomitant with dryness. The atmosphere parched by hot, pestilential, and blasting winds, accompanied by drought.”

With reference to the spring of 2013, Jupiter was the most prominent indicator. In general, the expected seasonal characteristic would be, again in Pearce’s words:

If Jupiter be in an angle at a solstice or an equinox . . . a temperate, good and wholesome air and a season favourable to the increase and fructifying of that which is sown and planted in the earth will follow. The ancients held that the action of Jupiter was varied in signs.

Indeed so, as far as the last point goes. It appears that with reference to meteorology, the Jupiter effect when in the sign of Gemini—the sign of its “exile”—is considerably weakened. There has been much weather woe through the American “breadbasket” (and cattle feedlot) in this season: a dramatic but largely unhelpful reversal of the extreme “flash drought” that erupted in the summer of 2012.

Not only has Jupiter been “in exile” for the past year, but for the spring season Mercury—lord of Gemini—has also been “in exile” in water sign Pisces, where Jupiter is lord. This is a condition that bodes ill for any territory—such as the American midsection—where those two planets are prominently placed. Hence the specter of crop failure for the second consecutive year.

Though Jupiter is still in Gemini at the time of the solstice, the indications of Mercury are not nearly so wet. With Venus in water sign Cancer, and with Neptune again near the Ascendant, Mercury shows there will certainly be enough moisture for what managed to emerge from spring’s wet.

However, the Moon, as lord of the season’s Sun sign (Cancer) and as the prime signifier for the summer’s potential for moisture, points to incidents of extreme and destructive precipitation. I use that particular word because I anticipate more than the usual occurrence of hailstorms, due to the nature of the Moon’s sign (Scorpio), and due to the appearance of the Moon in the midnight sky at an exact (to the degree and minute) right angle to the local Ascendant.

It would be lovely to forecast a pleasant summer season leading to a bountiful harvest. Wasn’t it Hemingway who wrote: “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”?

But there are no rose-colored lenses for viewing the prospects for the season ahead: This chart for summer is a harbinger of harder times. Alas, as spring goes, so goes the year. There is no recovery from this year’s bad start.

What is there to do but adapt and prepare for further disruptions?

<- zoidion ->



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