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Sunset Line 02/03/2015

Posted by zoidion in herbalism, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s another sunny day, a bit chilly still (relatively), but it carries comfort: The sun, a little higher in the sky each day, has more ability to warm my face and restore some color. Not only is it higher, but also it is clearly on the march: It rises now to the north of the pine tree across the alley.

Thus meteorological spring has arrived, and with it deepening concern about the prospects for needed rain. For I’ve totaled my recorded precipitation for the months of meteorological winter (December through February): 2.01 inches (71% of the normal 2.83).

As for temperature, winter was a mercurial affair: December five degrees above normal, January more than three degrees above, February a full nine degrees below. Very close to average overall.

But winter was far from average for much of the eastern half of the continental US: brutal, with unseasonable cold, snow and ice. Especially for the Boston region, especially in February (though the siege actually began with the storm of 26-28 January). See this previous post.

Not to ignore the suffering of the South. I can attest to a bit of it: I vividly remember standing, on the morning of the New Moon, on the shore of the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri, in bitter cold and a whipping wind. I stood there for only a moment.


And snow, more of it than at home, was on the ground almost all the way to Memphis. Returning on the “City of New Orleans” a week later, there was a fresh coating of snow across northern Mississippi.

In between, I camped for several days near the north side of Lake Ponchartrain, across from New Orleans, shortly after the rude turn in the weather for Mardis Gras on the 17th. On the 21st the temperature reached the sixties, and sunny low-seventies on the 22nd. But I paid for that comfort with at least a dozen insect bites (I never saw the critters) on my briefly-sandaled feet. (I got some relief by applying some of last year’s comfrey leaves soaked in hot water to the affected areas.)

Although locals were dining al fresco that lovely Sunday, and although I noted budding trees, some daffodils, and fading magnolia blossoms, folks were clear: The season was still winter. And winter there is evidently much cloudy: I was unable to spot the rare conjunction of the crescent Moon with Venus and Mars on the 20th.

But I must say I was warmed by the typical graciousness and courtesy I encountered with the local folks: an antidote to the haste and rudeness that I find frequently in the North — and all too often in myself.

It’s curious, isn’t it, the way North America was divided between light and dark at the moment of the winter solstice (solar Capricorn ingress) 2014? The sunset line cut across the continental US from eastern Montana to the Louisiana coast. Have a look at the astromap below:


The sunset line is marked in red and a bullseye symbol (for the Sun) with DS (for descendant). To the north and east, the land was in shadow at the solstice moment; to the south and west, the Sun still shone.

It seems to fairly neatly mark halves of the US destined for overall cold and warmth. I’m not saying that Sun above the horizon in a season chart means above-average temperature. But the Sun close to the horizon in such a chart is perhaps a major factor in continental-level forecasting.

And then there’s the Mercury factor: its long sojourn (symbolizing winds) in cold Aquarius, where Saturn is lord, from 4 January to 12 March. A sojourn considerably lengthened by a retrograde phase that began on 21 January.

That was when the hard stage of winter began. And only today does Mercury regain that retrograde point in the zodiac. (Mercury was then in the evening sky, now in the morning sky.)

It’s looking like it will take a few days (see this from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network), and the passing of the Full Moon on the 5th, but the pattern is about to shift.


[What I’m reading: Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline, Morris Berman, 2012. One key point connected to recent personal experience: The more traditional and easygoing culture of the South, aside from the institution of slavery, had — from the point of view of the hustling, industrial “progress”-oriented North — to be crushed.]



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