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Wettest Week 20/08/2016

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Climate, Event, forecast, herbalism, homesteading, Long Emergency, Photography, urban agriculture.
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Twin Cities ephemera: This morning, for the first time since probably May, I put on jeans and a long-sleeve shirt before going outside to check the rain gauge. Going past the hardy kiwi vines, I noted the many yellow leaves as those perennials respond to the shorter days: two hours of daylight less than at the summer solstice (Cancer solar ingress) two months ago. And the hops are approaching their fullness.

Yes, the seasonal shift is apparent, and the first hint of autumn comes right on astro-meteorological schedule.

Another round of rain showers has begun, leading me to total the numbers for the month so far: over six inches, with the awareness that many other locations across Minnesota have recorded much more.

It may not make much difference in my yard — though I’m concerned that the cherry and pear trees may be damaged by excess moisture — but the persistent wet conditions may spell trouble for large-scale harvest operations, dependent as they are on field access by heavy machinery. I wonder if a significant portion of commodity crops will end up rotting.

With plenty of heat and moisture, and enough sun, it’s been a good season for tomatoes. We put together a quart of salsa — using homegrown onion, chives and basil — and put up a half-dozen bottles of tomato juice. I dug up a patch of volunteer yellow dock (Rumex crispus), washed the soil off the roots, and spent an evening trimming and slicing them to fill a half-pint jar that I topped off with certified organic Prairie brand vodka (distilled in the region from corn grown in the region) to start a tincture: good (usually in combination with another herb) for treating skin disorders and general detoxification.

As I mosey about the back yard, squeezing through the narrowed paths resulting from the extravagant growth, I feel a bit impatient for autumn, when I can move several clumps of perennials that have become much bigger than anticipated. Even as I marvel at the eight-foot-tall sunflower plant that volunteered itself nearby, I look forward to pulling out the vast tangle of stems that have reached out from one mound of spaghetti squash. And I ponder if there’s enough season left to hand-pollinate a blossom on the huge butternut squash plant that has grown voluntarily on one of compost piles; it’s probably not a purebred plant anyway, so its seed would not grow out true to type next season.

I already did that, however — hand-pollinate, that is — with one of the spaghetti squash blossoms, and it’s been a marvel to watch it grow so rapidly.

one day after pollination

seven days after pollination

Yes, as the turn of the season comes into view, I find myself recalling the barrenness of this landscape only four months ago. It’s an annual astonishment.

It was the first-quarter Moon — at local noon (Sun at the upper meridian) on the tenth — that marked the following week as likely the wettest of the summer. It’s a cardinal rule of astro-meteorology that when a lunation (New or Full Moon, first or last quarter) aligns with either the meridian or horizon of the  season (ingress) chart, the most notable weather event of the season quickly follows.

In this case, the first-quarter Moon in water-zoidion Scorpio aligned with the eastern horizon of the Cancer ingress chart. For further emphasis on rainfall, Venus was coming into alignment with deluge-and-flood-potential Neptune, the latter potently located at the lower meridian (opposite the circle-with-vertical-line) of the ingress chart.


Within a few hours of the first-quarter Moon, the rain began falling, and within a few hours the gauge held two point six-three inches. Not too far west of here, the area around Willmar was inundated with nearly ten inches of rain.

But even that was less than half of what fell on southern Louisiana in what is now being recognized as the greatest weather disaster in the country since Superstorm Sandy struck New Jersey / New York in 2012. Some 40,000 homes have been inundated. Some rivers there recorded their highest crests ever — greater than from any hurricane, and this from a storm without a name: just one aspect of the complex of abnormalities that now comprises “the new normal.”

The same two charts, recast for Denham Springs, Louisiana, have the same zoidia on the axes of horizon and meridian. The main difference is in the first-quarter Moon chart: Moon very closely aligned with eastern horizon. (Note the crescent-Moon symbol close to the degree indicated by the circle-with-horizontal-line.)


Bingo! Instances such as this afford astro-meteorologists the capacity to anticipate the approximate timing and location of crucial — even catastrophic — events far in advance: as far ahead as the astro-meteorologist is motivated to look. Something that techno-meteorologists can’t hope to do.

Far away, however, during Full Moon week, the equivalent of a Category Two hurricane was spinning  in the central Arctic Ocean — again, the strongest such event since 2012. In a way, that’s not surprising: considering that the recent weather pattern has had heat surging north from the Asian land mass, across Siberia, and over the Arctic Ocean. This and other storms have been breaking up and churning what remains of Arctic ice at its seasonal ebb.

What was formerly normal for the Arctic region is greatly disturbed: The Northwest Passage is open to shipping, villages along the shore are being abandoned, Greenland’s vast icecap is melting and collapsing.

And in the months immediately ahead, what cold(er) air masses remain, have to go somewhere. The North American continent appears to be the likely outlet. That, plus a key indicator in the autumn season (Libra solar ingress) chart, points toward a series of cold shocks that are likely to also affect harvests in gardens and industrial fields across much of fly-over land.

More later.



Rain Bombs Away 04/08/2016

Posted by zoidion in Climate, Event, herbalism, homesteading, Long Emergency, Photography.
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Twin City ephemera: The first rumbles of distant thunder, as darkness yielded to gray, stirred me from an uneasy muggy night.

Another day — actually, another hour or so — another two inches plus of rain. Frankly, I was amazed — it didn’t seem to be coming down quite that hard and fast. And I didn’t notice any ponding along the border between lawn-land next door and garden-land over here, as I did during and after the bigger 5 July storm.

But more and more often, rainfalls — at least in this part of the world, and even more in this country’s northeast quadrant — happen as deluges.

Anyway, relief is already in the air: relief from tropical-style dew points.

Yesterday, first thing, I was smart enough to get going on this year’s batch of immunity-boosting tonic. It’s elderberry season just now, and the first related project was drying a quart of berries in the dehydrator, for tea through the rest of the year. (I’m still using last year’s.) 

Making the tonic is a bit more involving: shopping for the other ingredients at an herb shop, simmering everything for an hour-and-a-half (what I recall from the workshop I went to), letting it sit for a while through an extended chat with my astro-buddy, straining out the liquid and decanting into several quart-size jars, adding just a bit of honey.

The ingredients: twelve cups water, three cups elderberries, one cup astragalus, one-quarter cup ginger, one cup echinacea, one cup lycii (goji) berries. (This time, I omitted the half-cup of burdock root.)

I would have preferred to do that cooking outside, on the rocket stove, but I couldn’t get it going. No doubt it didn’t help that there was a little pile of wet ashes in the firing chamber, left over from last time I used it. Guess I better find a way to keep it better covered.

Through much of the process of picking the elderberries, a medium-sized gray bird — species unknown — served as overseer. It would perch on one of the inner branches, keeping quite still as I clipped the sagging, deep-purple clusters of berries. Often it would repeatedly open and close its beak, making a slight exhalation sound. Sometimes it would be on the ground, hopping along, endangered by the cat that occasionally prowls here.

Was it sick? During one of those very muggy days, I found it in the half-full water can, seemingly fully bathed but unable to get out. A bit later and it would have been exhausted and drowned. I poured the bird out onto the ground.

One more backyard drama — less entertaining, no doubt, than the sight and sound of me discovering, squeezing and pounding the Japanese beetles. They seem to find the leaves of the raspberry and fireweed plants, and one of the hazelnut bushes, especially tasty and nutritious.

When I checked the transits — the positions of Sun, Moon and planets — for the time (just about seven a.m.) that this latest downpour arrived, in relation to the chart for the season, well, it’s a classic.  It doesn’t always happen quite so neatly, but it does illustrate a basic rule of astrometeorology: When the Moon crosses the horizon or meridian of the season chart, a significant change in the weather is indicated.

In this case, the Moon at that moment was exactly crossing the upper meridian, moving through the zodiac in counter-clockwise direction.


See the crescent-Moon symbol in the outer ring: the transit ring? It’s in exactly the same degree as the circle-with-the-vertical-line symbol, indicating the upper meridian, in the inner ring: the season chart.


The Moon’s having passed Venus in the previous hours showed plenty of moisture available as the frontal boundary of a different air mass passed this way.

The lower meridian of the season chart is the prime indicator for relative moisture: With the zoidion Pisces and planet Neptune there, an overall wet summer marked by likely deluges was the expectation.

The season chart for Ellicott City, Maryland — sixteen degrees of longitude to the east — also shows Pisces and Neptune at the lower meridian, but with Saturn (indicating greater storminess) close to the Ascendant.


There, less than a week ago, a small, historic valley town was devastated by a “rain bomb” storm: a “thousand-year” flood for the second time in this decade.

Meteorologists these days refer to “training”: intense rain-producing storms that form one after another and move, analogous to a series of railroad cars, across the same small area, in a timeframe of several or more hours. They produce impressive rainfall totals and often catastrophic flash floods.

Here’s one scene of the aftermath in Ellicott City.


(Photo from Washington Post.)

Robert Scribbler has one story. And the Baltimore Sun has another.

One distinction to make re: astrometeorology: At the time of the storm, the Moon was not crossing horizon or meridian in Ellicott City’s season chart, reflecting the fact that the meteorological situation was not that of a front separating air masses passing through.

It was an atmospheric situation fed by summer heat and vast amounts of moisture coming off super-heated offshore waters.

Still, there was a combination of clear warning signs for that region in the lunation chart cast for the fourth-quarter Moon: the Moon (a tide of atmospheric moisture) one degree from the lower meridian, and Pluto (catastrophic destruction) on the horizon.


Ellicott City, pretty and historic as it is, is in a vulnerable location, in an era when rain bombs are becoming more frequent. There is discussion about making valley buildings more flood-resilient, some of them with basements retrofitted to allow flood waters to flow through them rather than accumulate. Another idea: parking-ramp-size tanks to capture flood waters for gradual release later.

It will be interesting and revealing to follow the course of Ellicott City’s adaptation in the years to come. How much can be preserved? How much must be abandoned?


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