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Heat Spike? 09/09/2013

Posted by zoidion in herbalism, permaculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s a murky morning, with thunderstorms passing out of sight and sound to the north, but with an occasional peculiar breeze wafting through the window. Last night, a steady chorus of crickets and the gentle clacking of wooden wind chimes brought a fairly typical early September day to a close: an overcast sky stirred by a soft breeze that reminded me of how much I will miss such airy caresses on bare skin.

Yesterday was also a day without garden work. And there has been enough heat, enough sun, in the past week to induce me to do the more intensive work soon after dawn. 

With some rare and welcome help, I got a ring trench–nine feet in diameter and about a foot deep–dug, filled with wood from the silver maple cut five months ago, and covered over again to form a berm. 

hugelkultur ring

The idea is to catch and hold rainwater to feed a fruit tree, herbaceous perennials and annual vegetables through droughts such as have become an annual occurrence; the buried wood will gradually dissolve back into the soil, serving as large chunks of water-holding sponge as it does. That will put a lot of carbon back into the soil, while nitrogen and other elements will come from the compost that has been cooking all year. Herbaceous perennials will include comfrey, whose roots will reach deep into the soil and bring up minerals to the leaves that I’ll cut and leave in place as sheet mulch.

The cooler weather yesterday permitted some leisurely examination and contemplation of several areas of the garden. We were standing at the rail of the deck, overlooking the herb area, and I was marveling at the size of the fennel that I plugged in back in May–damp, chilly May. Now five-and-a-half-feet tall and spreading four feet, it’s taken over its spot. (It seems that adding nitrogen-rich urine to the soil over the winter had some effect.) I’ve been adding the feathery foliage to salads, and the bees have obviously been enjoying the many umbels of tiny yellow flowers. But it’s just too dang big, and overhanging the anise hyssop. Still, I want some scattered around the vegetables next year–I must obtain some seeds for a lower-growing variety–I read that fennel repels slugs, which have taken a terrible toll this year.

I was thinking out loud about all that when M noticed and pointed to a wannabe-monarch clamped to one of the stems near an umbel. It was not easy to spot:


What a wonder, as well as confirmation of my work and intention to help in the restoration of a healthy habitat.

But today . . .  the techno-weather folks maintain that the clouds will move away and allow the temperature to zoom to a most unseasonable 97 degrees. A one-day heat spike, they say.

The late-season surge in heat in this northern clime has been understandable: The Sun, much below the horizon in the season chart, at last reached and climbed above the horizon (by zodiacal degree) on 20 August. That day, the temperature climbed to 90 for the first time in a month, and most of the following week was hot and muggy. There was enough misery to keep State Fair attendance figures to notable lows on several days.

But look and look as I have, I’m just not seeing indications of the one-day heat spike that’s been forecast since late last week.

On 6 September, the Sun arrived at the ninety-degree mark from the place of Mars in the season chart. That’s a reliable combination indicating greater heat and dryness. (That day’s drought report indicated that central Minnesota is again in “severe drought” status, with most of the remaining southern two-thirds of the state enduring “moderate drought.”) True to tradition, it was a hot and hazy day, with a persistent wind out of the south rather than the usual west. It was the most bothersome day in the week.

There is definitely an atmospheric battle going on, and a very intensive one at that: Mars, now in fiery Leo, is in a tight configuration with Saturn (both its current place and its place in the season chart) and, this morning, the Moon as well. (See chart below.)


This represents a very turbulent combination of forces. As George J. McCormack put it (A Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting, 1947, 2012):

Saturn condenses or crystallizes aqueous vapors. The influence of Mars promotes evaporation. The result is conflicting currents in the atmosphere, promoting varying winds and destructive storms in the lowlands when these major planets form their conjunction, parallel of declination, opposition or square aspects to each other. The atmospheric disturbances are most intense when these configurations, particularly the conjunction, take place during the warm seasons.

But neither Mars nor Saturn is connecting strongly with the angles in the season chart.

And though the Moon–crucial “lady” governing the Sun in the relevant ingress chart–is returning tomorrow night for the third time to the same place she occupied in that chart, her stronger influence is directed to more southerly regions: As of 6 September, the Moon has shifted from northern to southern declination for two weeks.

Thus, I don’t see this particular area, at this time, being the scene of exceptional heat or of outbreaks of violent weather.

<- zoidion ->

P.S.  It turns out, thanks to word from poet/naturalist John Caddy,  that the caterpillar we spotted would become a swallowtail flutterby–not a monarch. I’d thought it was strange that a monarch would be at that stage just now, since I’ve been seeing monarchs–a few–for some time.



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