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Heavy Weather 14/07/2017

Posted by zoidion in forecast, homesteading, Photography, urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The solstice has come and gone, the poignancy of the start of the long slide into darkness replaced by a sometimes febrile rush to embrace the fruits of the season. Along with the poignancy, and alongside the lushness of midsummer, comes a sobering recognition of areas of failure in the garden, and the necessity of waiting ten months for the next opportunity to do better.

For improved yields, two main points stick with me: I would do much better to use fresh seed (and discard older seed), and I can better safeguard the viability of the garden’s produce by saving seed from what has (obviously) successfully adapted to weather and soil conditions on the most local level of all: my yard.

As for fruits: First came the red currants. Not enough to make jelly, but enough to press and cook (just a bit) for a very rich juice. Then came the cherries: a prodigious yield from one medium-sized tree, five years out from planting, requiring much labor in the picking and pitting. (Neighborhood fireworks on the Fourth of July punctuated a delicious cherry cobbler.) Almost simultaneously, the year’s first crop of red raspberries and only crop of black raspberries began ripening. And now: black currants.

One might gather from such a report that weather has been favorable. Indeed so.

Though there have been scattered incidents of severe weather events in the region, this has been an easy summer so far. Obnoxious heat and humidity have largely remained to the south, and there have been some days — including yesterday — that were cool and cloudy, more typical of September. (Some northern Minnesota low temperatures dropped into the thirties.)

But that pattern is due to change.

The period that most concerns me about local weather is about three weeks away. I know from five years of observation with astrological weather charts that heavy weather is most likely when a lunation — New, Full or quarter Moon — aligns with either the vertical or horizontal axis of the season chart.

It’s fairly to easy to see it coming. With Sol in the late-night quadrant of the Cancer solar ingress (Northern Hemisphere summer solstice) chart, Sol is moving (counter-clockwise) in zodiacal passage toward the western horizon of the chart, where the zoidion Leo is in command.

When Sol enters Leo (where Sol is lord) on 22 July, in hot pursuit of Mars — they conjoin on the 26th — more persistent and withering heat can be expected. As they come to the descendant of the season chart around the fourth of August, challenging conditions of dryness are likely to become more prevalent through the mid-continent. (Keep a watch on the U.S. Drought Monitor, mentioned in the previous post.)

CN-ing_FM-Aug-2017

The Full Moon (partial lunar eclipse, not visible from North America) of the seventh of August — stretching across the horizon of the season chart — presents a troubled picture for this area. Capping an extended period of heat buildup, a great degree of atmospheric turbulence is indicated as a cooler air mass advances from the north. What symbolically adds to the forcefulness of the storm potential is Venus: That symbol of moisture has now arrived at eight degrees of water-zoidion Cancer. That is the very midpoint — a power point — between horizon and meridian.

The missing ingredient — a northbound air mass brimming with Gulf of Mexico moisture — seems set to unleash a major rain event.

After multiple such events scattered around the state in recent years, one wonders about the readiness of this metropolitan area, with its vast areas of pavement and water-shedding buildings.

(Fun facts: The all-time record hottest recorded temperatures in this region date from 1936, when the season chart featured fire-zoidion Leo on the ascendant, and Scorpio — where Mars is lord — on the lower meridian: where weather comes down to Earth. The hottest-ever local temperature — one-hundred-ten degrees F — occurred on 14 July 1936, with Sol and Mars less than ten degrees apart in Cancer, plus Mercury and Venus there.)

-<zoidion>-

Recent reading: The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben, 2015; The Harrows of Spring, James Howard Kunstler, 2016
Recent listening: “Koyaanisqatsi,” Philip Glass; “Casual Gods,” Jerry Harrison; “Heavy Weather,” Weather Report; “The American Shadow,” Carolyn Baker on Radio Ecoshock
Recent investigation: The background to the “Qatsi” series of three films; link — “A Visit with Godfrey Reggio,” WNYC radio 2014

Tull Me Meet Again 09/02/2017

Posted by zoidion in fruit, History, homesteading, Long Emergency, Mundane, Photography, urban agriculture.
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Twin Cities ephemera: What a joyous occasion it was, last week: the start of the gardening season. And how appropriate to be under a Taurus moon, rising over the eastern horizon, as a bright sun on a (unusual) seasonably cold day crossed the zenith. After my labors, after putting away the step-ladder and piling up the clippings, my reward was to doff my hat and loosen my coat to bask in the warmth on the south side of the garage.

The main task was pruning the cherry tree, about to begin its sixth season of growth and fifth of fruiting a few feet away from where the trunk of the huge and contorted elm tree stood. After a brief refresher on principles — consulting the good old Rodale’s All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening (1992) — I had at it, circling the tree, clipping downward- and inward-growing branches and shoots, removing growth that crossed or touched, opening up the space at the center. It was hard work, with hand pruners and small hand-saw: cherry wood is hard, which is why it is prized for making furniture.

Before that, as moon was actually crossing the horizon, I clipped a half-dozen bud-dense shoots from two of the black currant bushes that sit under one of the pear trees. This is a good time to start rooting them indoors, so I can get them in the ground out front two months hence.

They were enjoyable tasks, performed outside, the quiet broken only momentarily by the stupid dog across the street: barking at me, in my own backyard!

The Jethro Tull song “Heavy Horses” came to mind and voice, with images of working animals and simple tools supplanted by fossil-fuel-powered machines. But there’s the reminder of what is timeless:

“And one day when the oil barons have all dripped dry
And the nights are seen to draw colder
They’ll beg for your strength, your gentle power
Your noble grace and your bearing
And you’ll strain once again to the sound of the gulls
In the wake of the deep plough, sharing.”

These days, I’d question the wisdom of the deep plough, but still . . . 

It got me thinking about a moment, long ago, when this country, the USA, in a period of evident crisis shaking its economic foundations, came perhaps closest to acknowledging the nature of its greatest problem: not yet a predicament. Back then, in the late 1970s, the occupant of the Oval Office was someone who seemed to have some grasp of the nature of the “energy crisis”: who saw with some clarity and called on the country to take another path away from disaster.

In Pres. Jimmy Carter’s “crisis of confidence” speech of 15 July 1979, he made statements that ring even more starkly true today:

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

“Sacrifice” — an orphan word in today’s society.

It was not to be. Six months later, Carter stood before Congress in his final “State of the Union” speech and reiterated what had been national policy since at least 1945: The USA would endeavor to be the boss over the disposition of the oil wealth of the Middle East.

Uncanny is how, in several respects, then resembles now, astrologically.

Primary among them, Neptune was then in the first house of the most commonly used “national” chart derived from the sky of 4 July 1776. Neptune had been there since 1973, when the first “energy crisis” hit and the nation was plunged into chaos. The term “malaise” was attached to Carter’s 1979 speech, though he didn’t use the word. But it was apt. Saturn, representing the pressure to face facts, was at a right angle to Neptune (in 1979).

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[The calculated time for the speech is speculative.]

Now, Neptune is a quarter-cycle along, and Saturn is in that same first house position: Again, Saturn is at a right angle to Neptune.

In the interval, little has changed, except the country is far deeper in the mire, furiously digging the hole deeper.

Take a look at the outline of the nature of our collective predicament, summarized on Albert Bates’ Peaksurfer blog. But here, to my mind, is the kicker:

“The only problems society does not acknowledge, or discuss, or act on, are the only problems that matter: species extinction, limits to growth, debt, overshoot, resource depletion, climate change, sea level rise, fisheries collapse & ocean acidification, nitrogen imbalance & tree decline.”

It’s a sad story with plenty of supporting evidence.

It’s why there’s a bit of comfort to be found in the music of Jethro Tull, many of the songs having themes of loss and dysfunction. The band named, mind you, after a seventeenth-century agricultural scientist and inventor.

-<zoidion>-

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