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May Day May Day 30/04/2015

Posted by zoidion in Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s freaky dry out there, for the end of April. Since I started “seriously” endeavoring to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs, this is the first time I can recall using collected rainwater to keep the soil surface damp enough for seeds to germinate. (At least, as of last week, we have here a “low tunnel” to help warm the soil in one of the raised beds while reducing the intensity of the sunlight.)
It’s much the same situation across most of Minnesota, where now stage two of drought reigns.
(The total of back yard precipitation for the month is 2.05 inches, compared to a local average 2.66 inches.)
I saw plenty of drought evidence yesterday on a short journey south and east of the Cities. I saw a number of dry creeks that should have running water, and very low water in the misnamed Cannon River: the early French explorers and traders called it River aux Canots (Canoe River, referring to canoes frequently left concealed at its mouth at the Mississippi) — then as now, Amurcans had problems with spelling and comprehension. And I saw many vast and dusty farm fields, tanks of anhydrous ammonia, and massive trucks rumbling down gravel roads, kicking up great plumes.
There were some pleasant aspects to the sojourn, though: particularly my visit to River Terrace Prairie, a state “scientific and natural area.”


Along the somewhat moister northern edge of the terrace, I encountered colonies of prairie smoke and pasqueflower, but I was probably visiting too late in the season for a chance at seeing the rare and threatened kitten-tails.



Meanwhile, feverish preparations continue for the annual May Day Parade and Festival, a marvelous and massive grassroots celebration of spring that attracts tens of thousands of participants and spectators. Among a certain contingent of the local population, it’s a big deal, anticipated with great eagerness and trepidation: What will the weather be like?
Scheduled — the first Sunday in May — around the date of the average last spring frost, the weather is as likely to be chilly or rainy as sunny and warm.
And yet, more than once it has seemed that focused collective desire has held back threatening rain until festivities were complete.
One year (2005) when I was involved in preparing the park for the festival, marching in the parade, and “tearing down” in the park, the weather was . . . uh, challenging throughout. Some snow was flying but not accumulating during setup, and I was glad for the long underwear I wore for the march; but all of us who took part in the teardown had to contend with a cold rain.
That year, May Day really was on May Day, and the date of the last quarter Moon. With water sign Cancer appearing on the lower meridian of the season chart, wet and relatively cold was the norm for spring 2005. With Moon and a “stationary” (from Earth’s vantage point) Saturn also in Cancer — well, that’s a really bleak combination.
Add to that the lunar phase, which correlates with the “winter” quarter of the lunar cycle, along with the Moon’s conjunction with Neptune that day, and one has the main ingredients for a gloomy occasion. Which completely fit the nature of one significant portion of the parade: an invitation to publicly grieve for all the dead resulting from the American invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The cosmic setup is much different this year, when the season chart features Sun, Moon, Mars, Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn in fire signs, with Saturn and fire sign Sagittarius at the key lower meridian. Thus, relatively warm and definitely dry for the season.
Festival Day on 3 May has Moon reaching fullness after dark, still in second quarter phase — correlating with summer — during the day. Thus, it has been a dry week, the driest of the month, with the temperature gradually climbing: The Moon has crossed only the spot in the sky held by Jupiter, in fire sign Leo.
At this point, the US Weather Service forecasts half a chance of thunderstorms for the day, with a thirty percent chance of scattered showers on the first. The planetary charts show little moisture available for anything more than local-area storms, essentially congruent with the forecast.
Violent winds could erupt on the first, especially in the afternoon and evening, as Moon in windy Libra opposes the positions of Uranus and Mars in the season chart. This date looks more potentially troublesome.
On the third, with Moon in watery Scorpio and having “gathered” some moisture from the opposition to the season position of Venus, there’s a reasonable chance of a given place’s dust getting settled.
As for Powderhorn Park, better plan to bring along at least a rain jacket. And be mentally ready to join in some crowd weather-working magic.


P.S.  I noted a story on the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) spacecraft, whose eleven year-mission is expected to end today as it crashes into Mercury’s surface. It has been in orbit around Mercury for the past three years, during which time it has mapped ancient lava flows and confirmed the presence of ice in perpetually dark craters near the poles. (Mercury’s planetary surface temperatures are estimated to range from a daytime 800 degrees F to a nighttime minus 300 F.)


Break Point 17/04/2015

Posted by zoidion in Long Emergency, Mundane.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s been a lovely week here (more so than expected, actually–some rain at the start,but neither drizzle nor deluge), living in the fleeting moments of spring’s awakening. Each day, the call to be outside has been more insistent than the day before.

Each morning, the slice of the moon has been thinner than the morning before. 

waning crescent
resplendent before dawn
clinging to the eye
in the sun’s first hour
but vanished by noon
like a goose gone south

Each morning, I’ve noted the buds on the elderberry bushes and hardy kiwi vines bigger than the morning before. And the more cautious ones on the cherry.


And it was delightful to bask in the mild, still air in the gloaming just now, playing my fiddle. Past when I would have thought they’d be about, several birds stopped by briefly, wondering perhaps what that singing — or chirping? — sound was. As dusk deepened, Jupiter, at its zenith, came into view. I played on, knowing Venus had my back, in the west.

I improvised a bit, in G major, but mostly ran through whatever of my standards came to mind: “Old Billy Hell,” “Fiddler’s Elbow,” “Off to California,” “Irish Washerwoman,” etc.

But there’s one tune that keeps sticking in my brain, and it’s not even a fiddle tune, though I’ve been working on getting it down. It’s a Philip Glass tune: the theme, with that deep male voice intoning that one word, from the 1983 movie, “Koyaanasqatsi.” (I saw the movie, back in the day, and I think the CD was the first I acquired.) A Hopi word meaning: life out of balance.

The sounds, on the lower strings (viola or cello would be even better), give resonance to the words I’d taken in earlier from an hour-long conversation between John Michael Greer and Chris Martenson — you can listen or read the transcript.

Some would probably call it doomer porn, yet it helps me make some sense of the cultural dissonance I encounter on a daily basis. And it helps me sort out the indications of the current planetary cycles.

Like many people who avoid immersion in the nonsense drumbeat of the mainstream media, I have a strong sense that “things” are very near a tipping — or breaking — point. Greer, for example, spells out a key societal operating principle that is generally considered unmentionable: White’s Law.

Economic development is a function of energy per capita. As energy per capita declines, economic development goes into reverse. That is one of the things you cannot say in public.

That’s the background, but what — and when — will be the next big event that disrupts whatever fragile equilibrium remains in the world, or domestic U.S., economic and political situation?

Major recent domestic tumults have involved military invasions and occupations of civilian areas: Boston in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013; Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of Michael Brown last summer.

Both were during very “Marsy” periods: when Sun and Mars were conjunct in Aries (where Mars is lord) in 2013, when Mars and Saturn were conjunct in Scorpio (where Mars is also lord) in 2014.

By late May 2015, Sun and Mars will be together in Gemini (where neither is lord) and forming a major configuration: opposite Saturn and square Neptune. Sun and Mars will conjoin on 14 June at twenty-three degrees Gemini: very close to the Mars position in the U.S. Declaration of Independence chart. Yes, a very martial period is shaping up. It could be military, it could be something else disruptive or explosive.

The U.S. has been stupidly poking the Russian bear for some time now; will Russian patience be exhausted?

Military situations in the Arabian peninsula have been spiraling out of control, both in the north and the south, with an increasingly shaky Saud regime in the middle. A full-scale Shia-Sunni conflagration could be underway by June, with oil infrastructure as primary targets.

Another spate of police killings of unarmed civilians across America could spark ugly mass confrontations as summer heat frays nerves.

Or the domestic break could come from another kind of spark: lightning. In a place such as Cushing, Oklahoma, the largest single oil storage place in the country, a crossroads of pipelines, and a hotbed of earthquake activity, thanks to fracking — a disaster waiting to happen.

A civilization, a nation, this dumb can’t count on luck forever. And with so little positive change for anyone to believe in since the economic meltdown of 2008, — large-scale voluntary change, so stoutly resisted through the entire Uranus-Pluto period (2012-2015), that may have helped avert greater calamity later — alas, a bigger fall must follow.

Every place seems as precarious as “Corn Island.”


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