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Halfway House 19/09/2016

Posted by zoidion in Climate, forecast, Photography, urban agriculture, Weather.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Twin Cities ephemera: Most of my time is spent in the polar half of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s an odd thought, admittedly, and not one with much time and energy invested in it, either. Yet there it was, bouncing around through several thought bubbles, soon after waking.

That’s because the forty-fifth parallel of latitude passes through North and Northeast Minneapolis, and my place is a couple of miles to the north. And just a couple of miles south of forty-five, the Mississippi River — greatest on the entire continent — rushes over the most significant falls of its entire length. Curious.

This is one of those periods of the year, after all, for reflecting on such facts: halfway between solstices, when day and night are equal, when Sun rises and sets at east and west points of the horizon. The Full Harvest Moon, occurring six days before the equinox (Libra solar ingress), also rose and set approximately on the east-west axis.

On the evening of the Full Moon, M and I went to Indian Mounds Park, on the east side of St. Paul overlooking a great bend in the river, in hopes of seeing the moonrise more or less in line with the mounds. The sky had cleared in the afternoon, so there was some prospect of seeing it on that account. But trees are another matter.

As places along another transition zone — between eastern hardwood forest and western grasslands, with boreal forest just a little further north — much of the Twin Cities area was prairie when settlers arrived. Trees were mostly found in the river bottoms. Now they’re on every street, with a great deal of resources applied to maintaining and replacing trees that naturally succumb to the pressures of urban environments, as well as a series of insect opportunists. Many, many streets were veritable cathedrals: the effect of lines of tall elm trees — until Dutch elm beetles carrying their deadly fungus took their toll. (Minnesota History magazine published, in its summer 2016 issue, a feature story on the great change.) Now it’s the turn of the emerald ash borers devastating the millions of ash trees.

Even so, the view to the horizon was obscured by trees. After capturing this view, a rogue raincloud arrived, bringing a downpour for a few minutes.


The rainy pattern continues, with somewhat longer stretches of dry weather between episodes. The ground is soggy across much of the region, as it is in my garden. 

The sorrel’s second season of luxuriant leaves yields plenty of salad material, as does the raspberries’. The squash continue trying to grow, as I continue nipping off the growing ends so the plants will put their resources into making fruit. The compost bins are nearly full, even without any tree leaves yet, and still cooking, although when rain is imminent I cover the denser pile so the microorganisms doing the work don’t drown.

Out front, along the sidewalk, I’ve dug out some of the black raspberries, having decided I’m not as enthused about the seedier fruit as compared to their red cousins. I’m transplanting some red raspberry plants out there, and I figure on taking some cuttings from the black currants come February, and putting them in that area as well. Always new garden experiments to contemplate.

But the big questions at this time of year are: How many days have we got left? When will the killing frost come? It’s tricky because even two spots within the urban heat island can have rather different experiences.

Before that most recent rainy spell, there was a reminder that September does belong, meteorologically, to autumn. The temperature here in the metro dropped to forty-seven (coolest since mid-May), in northern Minnesota as low as twenty-seven.

That was when Moon was moving through Aquarius, along with Capricorn a zoidion associated with cold conditions, where Saturn is lord. That was a reminder to give more consideration to the indications contained in the seasonal chart cast for the Libra solar ingress on 22 September: a chart that for this locality has Aquarius on the most important place: the lower meridian.


(In case you’re wondering why the chart here uses Placidus houses / places instead of whole-sign houses / places, usual on this site, it is simply to render the horizon and meridian obvious.)

“Sharp cold spells” was the phrase that came to mind when first seeing the coming season’s chart. Climatologists and meteorologists seem to have the slow-motion train wreck of climate chaos fairly well figured out, at least for the short-term future: Earth’s overall climate continuing on a steeply warming pace. And that is likely to continue through the autumn of 2016.

But that doesn’t preclude the likelihood of some rude shocks of cold weather — successive killing frosts, as Canadian air masses gain strength against Gulf and Pacific air masses — through the North American midsection.

As Moon moves through the zoidia (counter-clockwise across the face of the chart), the first crossing of the horizon at the ascendant — late on 1 October — will likely be a telling indicator of the character of the season. Markedly cooler and windier weather with a bit of rain — as Moon crosses the position of Venus in the season chart — is the forecast for this area. But probably not a hard frost.

The real drama arrives as Moon crosses the early-Aquarius lower meridian on 10 October. Expect the lengthening night after to be very chilly indeed. End of season for any tender plants, even covered with a blanket.

Further weather drama of the chilly variety comes for areas further south on 6-8 November: the Moon’s next pass through Aquarius, just as Americans make decisions on who is most deplorable at their polling places.

Around here until recent years, Thanksgiving marked the start of snow-on-the-ground winter. The heavens seem to be indicating a return to normal this time, with a sloppy storm rolling through.

And come the first weekend in December: another rude shock.

There is some good news: The very wet pattern eases.

What does the Farmer’s Almanac say? I heard something a while back — a summary, along with the obligatory derision that “it’s not scientific” — but I don’t remember.


[ Currently reading: Shaman, Kim Stanley Robinson, 2013; The Fermented Man, Derek Dellinger, 2016 ]



1. Mary Louise Turner - 27/09/2016

The picture you posted of the Indian Mounds Park brought me a big smile. You captured the place so well that I felt like I was there. I kind of sat down on an imaginary bench and meditated awhile. Awesome! It sounds like you’ve been enjoying cooler weather unlike us here in Springfield, Illinois. It’s been in the 90º’s pretty much all month. Yesterday it finally got into the 70ºs as a high. Talk about global warming! I wasn’t sure if we were going to have a fall. Anyway, enjoy the weather while you can!

zoidion - 27/09/2016

Thanks for the comment. Too bad I couldn’t show in that photo the great bend in the river: It’s a spectacular site. No wonder the ancients found it so special. (Alas, the flats on the other side now host an airport.)
No surprise about the change in the weather. Around here: 70s with rain through the weekend, now 50s around sunup. I noted that the shift — clearing and cooler — took effect as Moon crossed the upper meridian of the new season chart. Like clockwork.

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