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Breaking Through the Gloom 25/10/2013

Posted by zoidion in Uncategorized, urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It was a bit of a shock to go outside today at first daylight (time to check the rain/snow gauge and report to CoCoRaHS) to find a clear sky, a glow in the east, and the Moon and Jupiter together and just past the zenith: Those two seemed to me to be the heralds of the beautiful, mild day that the techno-weather folks have virtually promised. It’s been nearly a week of waiting for what I was expecting , the wait punctuated by occasional flurries of snow pellets.  

There’s been much to do to prepare the yard and garden for winter’s rest: Protect the fruit trees and bushes from loss of bark and stems to the rabbits over the winter; move a vigorous French sorrel plant from the chemical zone to one of the new forest-garden circles; acquire a bale of straw to lay down in those circles and elsewhere; move a couple of ligularia plants from the rain garden in front (not consistently wet enough there) to the water garden in the low spot of the community garden; burn some wood down to biochar and add it to the raised beds and the former elm-root zone. 

That last item is one that wasn’t on my list until last week, when I looked at the latest post by one of my recommended blogs: Turkeysong. I’ve been interested in biochar for awhile, but figured I needed to acquire–more likely, build–a specially-configured burner. But now I think, maybe not. I am especially moved by the photo of that fellow’s raised bed with a layer of  char ground to gravel size (to be dug into the soil). Without a backup wood stove (yet) for the house, this seems like a good use of part of the woodpile: soil-building.

I enjoyed seeing and catching up with some other local soil-builders the other night at a forum of mayoral candidates: There are a slew of them this year, the inaugural run of a ranked-choice voting system. Eight presented themselves and their cred when it comes to recognizing the importance of urban gardening and farming. Several talked of growing up on farms, another of currently keeping chickens, and there was plenty of talk about solutions. Gag.

One friend remarked to me afterward that the occurrence of this forum was an indication of the remarkable movement of the movement. But I was less sanguine: Every candidate but one used the term “growth” in a way that showed a failure or unwillingness to recognize that the era of economic growth is over, that growth has pushed the Great Bozo Bus (remember Firesign Theatre?) to a very short distance from Collapse Cliff.

Tonight: a presentation by Nicole Foss and Laurence Boomert. I suppose I’ll see some of the same faces, and get a better sense of how much more lately humanity has closed the distance from the Cliff.

So why did it take so long for some pleasant weather to arrive? The indications of the weather for the week are in the Full Moon (lunar eclipse) chart, cast for 18 October (see figure below).

Full Moon October 2013

The eclipse signaled a break in the pattern, and it has been fairly dramatic: notable lake-effect snowfalls downwind from the Great Lakes, and abnormal chills deep into the South. (Note: This is a three-day forecast map, the colors indicating expected inches of snow.)


Here, the wet pattern of the previous three mild weeks (1.08, 0.48 and 1.83 inches of rain) has given way to the first frosts within the urban heat island, persistently cloudy skies and only 0.23 inch of precipitation. In the portion of my seasonal forecast for this week, I said: “Mild with some rain, followed by cold and windy conditions.” I got it backwards.

The cold water sign Cancer on the lower meridian has been consistent through the past three weeks’ charts. Accordingly, there’s been plenty of moisture present, though, this week, it has remained mostly in the form of low, thick clouds. But this week’s chart has been like the one for the week of the New Moon (4 October) in having good-weather Jupiter close to the meridian. This time, though, it took nearly a full week of the Moon’s movement to arrive at the meridian and activate Jupiter.

It ain’t Indian summer, but I’ll take it. I’ll take some time to bask.

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The Pause 11/10/2013

Posted by zoidion in Climate, Mundane.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Twin Cities ephemera: It’s been a lovely week here near the Falls of St. Anthony, after the five-day siege of clouds and rain. About an inch and a third of rain fell in my backyard, most of it during the week of the last quarter moon. Quite a bit more fell on southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa.

The median date for the first 32F low temperature of the season (at the Twin Cities airport) is 7 October, but the urban heat island is yet to have a frost. The entire week has been mild and dry, with southerly breezes. So it can’t be called Indian summer.

I can almost let myself imagine that these aren’t the last days and nights of the year with the windows thrown open. That the trend must not be down into the cold, into the dark. That I can skip the unavoidable.

That all of us can.

I don’t expose myself much to “the news,” in fact it lately took me a couple days to figure out why I kept seeing flags at half-mast. I haven’t followed much of the reporting and commentary and theatre on “the shutdown,” recognizing that the reality of reduction in the size and function of government must be painful, frightening–and unavoidable. Coming down from any peak is generally much more difficult than going up, with more fatalities attending.

I do what I can, where I am, finding common cause where I can–yet it seems so tiny, so inadequate. The two pear trees I recently planted in my yard–each set in a ring of hugelkultur (buried wood) with perennial and annual vegetables to follow in the spring–are so spindly. Meanwhile, all around, the mowers’ fossil-fuel roar drowns out the sound of the birds, the whisper of the wind.

Somewhat farther afield, the parade of the absurd continues.

Exhibit A: the ongoing farce regarding the billion-dollar state-legislature-approved football stadium–designed to look like a giant igloo with windows, funded largely by Minnesota and city of Minneapolis taxpayers (in defiance of the city’s charter requiring a referendum). Democrats, lately back in control of the legislature and the governor’s office, tripped over themselves in supporting a deal that could only be called cockamamie, while Republicans mostly opposed it.

Exhibit B: the St. Croix River “extradosed” bridge across a federally “protected” river, just a few miles upstream from an existing Interstate highway bridge. Politicians red and blue came out in support of this environment-wrecking doozy, actually cooking it up far beyond what the highway-loving “DOT” had planned. (Building new bridges is so much sexier than maintaining old ones, as the world was reminded not so many years ago when the I-35W bridge collapsed just a few miles from here.)

Exhibit C: The frenzy of road-building and re-building in the immediate Twin Cities area, and planning for a third expensive-and-disruptive “light-rail” line, proceed apace.

The heedlessness of it all . . .

Increasingly lately, I’ve found myself caught in a flood of grief, dismay, despair. Yet I also find myself in company–somewhat. A small group of us have come together, willing to admit that the collective situation–our predicament–holds no solutions, only responses.

This is not a group of solar-energy enthusiasts, drunk on the notion that plunking some high-falutin’ photovoltaic panels on every ding-dang roof will enable us all to continue with our energy-guzzling lives as usual, just greener. I don’t think any of us really expects Monsanto and the rest of Big Ag (and Big Dept. of Ag) to wake up tomorrow or next year and act nice and ecological. None of us, I dare say, looks to MallWart to close up and become a foundation dedicated to recreating the old Main Street business model.

As our “meetup” organizer refers to us: We are “people who look at their children and can’t help but cry, over the insanity and their own unavoidable complicity in the creation of this predicament; people who are more concerned with choosing Responses with Meaning for their lives, accepting that the planet is in Hospice!”

It all came together for me recently in a piece by Richard Heinberg, “Fingers in the Dike.” Briefly, he reminds his readers of the three primary components of the predicament preventing a continuation of industrial civilization: the geological, economic and ecological. Heinberg outlines first the efforts of the fossil fuel “producers” to obscure the geological fact of having passed the peak of “easy oil,” then the fallacy of “quantitative easing,” then the “pause” in the rise in global air temperature relative to the steeply climbing curve of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The last seems at first like a good thing. Humanity has “gotten away” with pouring vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning half–the better-quality, easier-to-get half–of Earth’s fossil fuel deposits. Heinberg summarizes the climate picture: The “warming of Earth’s surface air temperature has slowed since 1998.”

However: “Turns out, very little of Earth’s trapped heat warms the atmosphere and land surface; most of it (over 90 percent) is absorbed by the oceans. . . . Global warming hasn’t really ‘paused’; it’s just gone to the depths.”

This “pause” might be better understood by recalling several statements by scholar/publisher David Roell about the nature of the Earth-Sun relationship, in his essay “Astrology Under Our Feet” (published as the foreword to his reprinting of George J. McCormack’s Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting):

The signs of the Zodiac are qualities inherent in the Earth itself.

Astrology is Earth-based.

The interplay of Earth and planets produce astrology as we know it.

These principles form the basis of the study and practice of astro-weather historical research and forecasting, and comprise its core: The most significant area of the astro-weather chart is the bottom of the chart: “under our feet.”

And in the case of a year now identified as a turning point in climate history–1998–the primary significance is contained in the sign placement of the Sun, Moon and planets at the start of that year.

How rare and curious was the configuration at the moment of the Aries ingress in 1998, when the Sun lined up with the celestial equator to begin the zodiacal year, that perhaps the symbolism holds for a number of years. See chart below, calculated for London, in recognition of one of the major studies of the “pause” phenomenon, and of that place as the initial intersection of science, industry and empire of this historical era that is now waning.

Aries Ingress 1998

The Moon, related to the distribution of moisture, is in fire sign Sagittarius–symbolizing the vagaries and quandaries of unusually mutable rainfall patterns.

But the placement of the two “malefic” planets–Mars and Saturn–seems most curious. Both are also in fire sign Aries: Mars representing the action and movement of heat (as well as the realm of “breakage”), Saturn the factors of cold, delay and stoppage. Mars in sign of rulership, Saturn in sign of fall. It’s a strange combination, but apt for the situation imposed.

Adding to the mix, Jupiter is in water sign Pisces (rulership), in exact conjunction with the south lunar node (a sink) and close to the position of the solar eclipse (indicating disruption of the established pattern) that occurred three weeks previous.

How curious too is the place of the Lot of Fortune (the O with the X), a point rather than a body, but representing the relationship of Sun, Moon and the specific location of the chart. In the sign of Cancer, ruled by the Moon, Fortune falls exactly on the place of the Sun on the date of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America.

In Shakespearean phraseology, America is Fortune’s fool.

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