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Full Frontal 28/08/2014

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Long Emergency, Mundane, Urbanism, Weather.
Tags: , , , ,

Twin Cities ephemera: As it likely would be for even the most cursory sky-watcher, it is a special occasion when one has the opportunity to see both Venus and Jupiter in the predawn firmament. It instigates enough of a charge to make a return to sleep an impossibility: For one thing, it got me pondering how unusual it is for Venus and Jupiter–the “benefics”–to travel together concurrently with Mars and Saturn–the “malefics,” now visible after sundown–doing likewise.

Getting outside at dawn also enabled me to discover this little marvel:


(That’s a bumblebee hanging on to the underside of a leaf on the anise hyssop plant, having spent the night there, apparently. A revelation to me.)

The morning’s visual beauties and wonders were inadequate, however, to prevent recalling one of the more salient sections in the latest posting on John Michael Greer’s Archdruid Report, titled “Dark Age America: The Population Implosion”: “the long-term consequences of industrial America’s frankly brainless dumping of persistent radiological and chemical poisons . . . changes to the North American continent that will endure straight through the deindustrial dark age ahead, and will help shape the history of the successor cultures that will rise amid our ruins.”

It’s the sort of thought that rears its ugly head whenever I reflect on the prospects for human life in Dark Age Minnesota–or whatever it’s called by its denizens. Even now, one only needs to enter the exurbs of the Twin Cities to cross into the zone of industrial agricultural contamination, where some of the world’s richest soil has been converted within a century and a half into a mere substrate designed for seeding with laboratory-engineered “plants” hatched and grown within a slurry of petrochemicals. (Within that radius, of course, the soils–not to mention the air and water–are different types of stews, producing different effects upon its inhabitants.)

So I find myself wondering what fraction of the current population could survive here once industrial agriculture fully founders, leaving its attendant diseases in its wake.


This week, though, amidst that internal noise, I’ve been enjoying the shift in atmospheric fronts. First a warm southern one, then a cooler and dryer northern one.

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t seem to make myself try to get much done when the atmosphere is muggy.

It wasn’t that last week was hot: not at all, at least around here. Oh, the techno-weather guys got all in a flutter about nasty heat and heat indexes (indices?) scheduled to threaten our very lives on the 21st and 24th.

Didn’t happen. Not even close. The cloudy shroud persisted, and the abnormally low number (two!) of ninety-degree temperature days for the season held steady.

However, the weather was not quite as this prognosticator figured: “warming, dry, windy.” Correct on the first item, wrong on the second: The damp air that accompanied the warm front enabled localized showers and thundershowers to pop up on several days. And the wind stirred only before those showers rolled through. Otherwise, the days seemed to drag on underneath a nearly suffocating blanket.

To illustrate: On the 23rd, a day with no showers, I hand-washed and wrung out five or six shirts and at noon hung them on the line outside to dry. Six hours later, all of them were still wet, not merely damp. Admittedly, the line is not in the sunniest of spots: the sun’s arc sinking lower. But still . . .

So through the murky days I put off one outdoor project: clearing and seeding with a ground cover (hairy vetch, Vicia villosa) this season. The sisters were hampered a bit, despite my efforts, I’m convinced, by the relatively poor soil where the three-years-gone elm tree’s root system remains underground. The idea is get the vetch started fixing nitrogen this season and at the start of next season, then cut it down and plant vegetables. This week for that project.

Another: putting spigots on the rain barrels. Dipping in the watering can–gotta give those cucumber and squash plants some moisture so they can inflate, right?–and lifting it out again is a shoulder-killer. Gotta quit doing that. But that task requires empty barrels, and they’re full again. Oh well, no hurry: sometime before the snow flies.

There’s a big difference between Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius and Saturn-ruled Capricorn, the signs on the lower meridian in the lunation charts for these past two weeks, respectively.

Sagittarius is a fire sign, thus indicative generally of warm and dry conditions. That’s what we had for the week of the warm front.

For this week of the New Moon, we have cooler, wetter Capricorn.

It’s actually been a refreshing week, up to today, when storms threaten. It was striking to note the cooler air on the morning of New Moon day, the twenty-fifth, as the New Moon was near the lower meridian of the season chart. The next morning was cooler still: fifty-nine degrees at sunup, with a high temperature that day of only about seventy.

I was tempted to use the word autumnal, but I held back: I expect a generally warm–and dryer–fall for this region: a shift in the pattern in place since the start of last winter. (Jupiter in fire-sign Leo near the lower meridian is a potent feature of the season chart.)

As these weather fronts moved north and then south, I found myself awakening one morning to this phenomenon as comparable to a military operation. I found myself reflecting on the tragedy of two men in Ferguson, Missouri: a young black man walking in the street and a white policeman who became his killer. And I found myself reflecting on the military invasion and occupation of Ferguson: an expression of aggressive Mars and intimidating Saturn marching together in Mars’ own sign of relentless Scorpio.

And I recalled the timing of the previous domestic military occupation: the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013. Mars was in his other sign, quick-acting Aries, along with the Sun, “exalted” in that sign.

In an era when America is in the early stages of bringing its empire home, it is chilling to ponder when and where might be the next incident to provoke another demonstration of might against America’s own–and practice for a broader uprising.

It is disturbing–to say the least–to recognize how this nation has built arenas of alienation. As Charles Marohn has put it in his “Stroad Nation” piece:

“It’s obvious that our platform for building places is creating dynamics primed for social upheaval. The auto-oriented development pattern is a huge financial experiment with massive social, cultural and political ramifications. . . . What I see with Ferguson is a suburb deep into the decline phase of the Suburban Ponzi Scheme.”

And as America discovered in the 1960s, there are a great many places primed to erupt.

Read Marohn’s piece, and awaken a bit more.

For truly, these are times that try (wo)men’s souls.




1. zoidion - 01/09/2014

Here’s a good summary, by Paul Chefurka in 2007, on the relationship between energy resources and population, worldwide. http://www.paulchefurka.ca/WEAP/WEAP.html
From the conclusion: ” the human race is now out of time. We are staring at hard limits on our activities and numbers, imposed by energy constraints and ecological damage. There is no time left to mitigate the situation, and no way to bargain or engineer our way out of it. It is what it is, and neither Mother Nature nor the Laws of Physics are open to negotiation.”

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