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All-Star Weather 07/07/2014

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Event, foraging, forecast, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s a sunny morning, very nearly half way through the summer–if one counts (as I do) the whole of June as the first month of that season. That’s a scary thought, after the long-drawn-out winter we had.

At least it began with a number of contacts with nature’s magnificence. In the process of checking the rain gauge, I disturbed a monarch flutterby–the only one I’ve seen here this year–from feeding amongst the clump of milkweed. Then I made a cursory inspection of the herb garden, noting the flowers just beginning to form on the anise hyssop and blue vervain, as well as the explosion of blue blossoms on the borage. Even the twisty flower stalks of the volunteer plantain were intriguing.

Come and get it, you pollinators.

Returning inside, my attention was caught by the movement of a fox through the tangle outside the sunroom: third sighting in the past two months.

I got out of town for the Fourth–as well as the second, third, fifth and half of the sixth. On the Fourth, I was camping with M and another couple at Frontenac State Park: part forest, part prairie, perched on the top of a steep-sided hill overlooking Lake Pepin, a naturally-dammed section of the Mississippi River. Noting the turkey vultures circling above, I looked down at the muddy water of the “lake”: a result, probably of the copious rains. (Over much of the region, this past June set the all-time rain record.) That muddy appearance is merely the latest evidence that the “lake” is rapidly filling with sediment from agricultural runoff, most of it from the Minnesota River valley.

It’s not a must-see for me, but as fireworks time approached I accompanied my cohort to the small picnic area, where there was an excellent view to the south over a considerable stretch of water, the hills of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the small town of Lake City (birthplace of water skiing). It was a modest-sized, remarkably sedate and courteous crowd: A retirement-age man came over to us, seated on the hard bench of a picnic table, and offered us the use of two extra chairs that would be more comfortable. As the sky darkened, we could spot distant silent eruptions of light from half a dozen spots in the town. But we left too soon and missed the main show.

By dawn on the fifth–now under the weather regime of the First Quarter Moon, dominated in this longitudinal zone by the energetic and turbulent Mars-Uranus axis–the wind had risen. And it continued through the day and following night. A thin layer of clouds gathered but yielded, at daybreak, only a smidgen of moisture.

That’s alright: We’re wet enough.

But one foraging-related recognition came out of my time at Frontenac: The very familiar three-leafed  vine I found there (also present in a shady section of my yard) is commonly called ground bean (Amphicarpaea bracteata). The excellent photos in Samuel Thayer’s Forager’s Harvest, which I had on hand, confirmed it beyond doubt.

Though it is ordinary-looking in the extreme, and provides a highly nutritious but rather labor-intensive food, Thayer describes a remarkable characteristic:

“If, as is often the case, the ground bean plant does not receive sufficient sunlight to produce these aerial beans, it has a superb backup plan: It starts acting like a perennial. It produces one or two inconspicuous flowers, without petals, at or near the ground. These flowers are self-fertile and guaranteed to set seed. Each produces a single bean that is much larger than an aerial seed. The parent vine then pushes these larger beans into the soil–in essence, planting itself.”

I now imagine that, come September, I’ll be doing a bit of on-my-knees foraging in the area where heretofore I’ve only been yanking out the pesky vines.


Plenty of excitement–and anxiety–attends preparations for the spectacles surrounding the major-league baseball all-star game, scheduled to begin 15 July, at 7:04 p.m. And since the venue, Target Field here in Minneapolis, is roofless, weather forecasters will be working overtime. Satellites and radar are very nearly useless in providing a sense of weather more than a week in advance, but planetary indications have no such limitations.

For the Full Moon week beginning 12 July, the basic forecast, issued a month ago, is for “dry and warmer overall, with gradual increase in incidence of sudden local storms.” Some of these storms will likely be severe: The Full Moon occurs soon after sunrise and coincides with the monthly lunar perigee (what some call a “Super Moon”), and the Full Moon forms one axis of a cosmic cross (the other being Mars-Uranus).

Overall good weather is indicated by Jupiter on the eastern horizon at the time of the Full Moon, but that is complicated by Mars eighty-four degrees ahead: slowly approaching the exact “square” on 2 August. Mars-Jupiter is the warm-and-storms combination.

With lunar motion as a key timing indicator, it appears that flood-threatening rains–especially in this longitude–are likely to hold off until Moon crosses the place of the next planet, Neptune, at the upper meridian of the season chart. That will occur mid-morning (Central time) on Game Day.

A fair-weather factor will also be in play, though a day too soon to suit the crowds: The Sun one degree away from Jupiter’s place in the season chart.

My analysis: High likelihood of torrential rains on Game Day that will test the state-of-the-art design of Target Field, local transportation facilities and storm drainage infrastructure, and a lovely day-after for surveying the situation.

The game itself: a close, low-scoring contest.


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