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Drought to Deluge to . . . 17/01/2017

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Climate, Event, forecast, Long Emergency, permaculture, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s another bump time around here, as the temperature drifts up to the freezing mark and beyond. Through several days the sky was brilliantly clear, with a wonderful planetary show: Venus quite bright and high in the west after sundown, with Mars much fainter and a little further ahead (from Sol). (Venus needs until early October to catch up, after a retrograde dance early March to mid-April.)

Before sunup, Jupiter is at zenith, directly above the bright star Spica, with Saturn low in the east. (I admit I haven’t spotted Saturn yet, more than thirty degrees from Sol.)

That — up! — is where most of the outdoor majesty is to be found just now in these parts. Though there are corridors and spots where real Earth breaks through. 

Reading — very slowly and episodically — Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota helps me recall and cultivate a fuller sense of the surrounding territory.

One day I recall from the past year involved a quick trip to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, close by the lake called Mille Lacs, where the large-scale shallow fishing waters and rich rice marshes along adjacent rivers provided much sustenance. Long-story short, the sense came that this was a place of much activity in a very large and sparsely populated region, which included the (typically) stupidly named Rum (instead of Spirit) River pathway to the Mississippi. A place of importance.

Just being there, I felt . . . something — something about energy flows, at least across the surface of the Earth.

It puts yesterday into perspective: the circuit of a few miles to visit the frozen leviathan known as Mississippi. As the first wispy clouds began to ride out of the south, Luna went about sinking in the west. In Islands of Peace Park, in Fridley, along the route of the onetime Red River oxcart travel — not so very long ago: less than two hundred years — the ragged icy surface of the Great River covered the ceaseless surge from upstream. (I admit I know little of the character of “management” of the River, and how the dams in the realm of ice restrict or enhance the flow.)

In the long-underwear chill, there were also marvels to behold in the snow-covered floodplain: large fungi on dead trees, the texture and color of ice in ponds that melted to slush until the day after Christmas, the large rough tipi.

But few, I suppose, are inclined to linger much: Might as well move on. Which I did, mostly on the smooth ice nearest the shore. I stopped a number of times, but briefly. Enough to press one knee into the snow to get a photograph or three.


Islands of Peace: Well, I’d keep that singular, since one of them is in the middle of the Mississippi and would require a heroic stroke as swimmer or paddler, or admittedly, an outboard motor. In a warmer season.

Definitely peaceful, however — except for the distant downstream roar of traffic on the multi-lane across the flow.

As many climatologists have been pointing out for some time, climate disruption includes such phenomena as rapid shifts between extremes, such as the very recent flip from extreme drought to flooding and sudden massive snowpacks in California and Nevada. This was the obvious big weather-related story of Full Moon week.

A story at Salon.com provided a good short summary.

“Just during the storm that hit Jan. 7 to 10, there were 52 reports of extreme precipitation (meaning more than eight inches of rain in a three-day period), with several measuring twice that. Strawberry Valley, on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevadas, got an amazing 20.51 inches of rain during that storm — more than Los Angeles typically gets in an entire year . . . The percentage of the state that is defined as “drought-free” has almost doubled overnight, from about 18 percent to 34.5 percent, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.”

The season chart for the region, based on the December solstice, indicates overall a few more incidents of rainfall during this normally rainy season there: this thanks to Venus near the lower meridian. Even though Venus was in dry, cold Aquarius.

But the classic indications for a period of over-the-top precipitation show up in the Full Moon calculation (the approximate midpoint for the series of storms in that atmospheric river): Venus and Neptune at the lower meridian. At the same time, Mars (reliably a warming if not also drying influence) had reached one of the midpoints between meridian and horizon — there are four, not shown on the graphic, located at nineteen degrees of Pisces, Gemini, Virgo and Sagittarius. (Warming was a crucial factor in determining the elevations above which precipitation fell and remained as snow.) In addition, Saturn at one of those midpoints in the season chart was forewarning of severe storms to come.


These storms, however, with all their attendant destruction and adaptation problems, bring only partial and temporary relief to the exceptional drought. Planetary indications for spring 2017 are emphatically in the direction of renewed drying: The vernal equinox chart puts Mars exactly on the lower meridian at Fresno in the crucial Central Valley. Indeed, the chart overall is weighted toward the triplicity of Fire, and the significance is obvious.

The past few years have given many foretastes of what is to come in spades (or mine-size haulers) during the heat of the summer and beyond. Be ready for wicked heat and drought, punctuated with wildfires and industrial mismanagement on a scale and with an intensity previously unseen.

Count on it: Summer 2017 centers on the period of Sol and Mars in their very hottest combination (in the zoidion Leo, where Sol is lord), especially in August, building up with great force and drama, and releasing following the solar eclipse on 21 August.

It will be yet another time for a mass shedding of denial: a veritable incineration of resistance to recognition of human-forced warming. It will be quite revelatory to witness  who’s willing to discard the blinders, and who’s not.

Besides fires and the misadventures of products of industry, massive crop losses appear very likely. This eclipse path will cut across the U.S. agri-biz “breadbasket” — It won’t be pretty. In part, it will be demonstrative of the degree to which some agriculturists have been moving away from industrial ag orthodoxy. There are many thoughtful and observant experiments afoot in the realm combining permaculture principles and agroforestry, as well as plain old intelligent conservation measures. How they come through the Fires of August will likely be most instructive.

But there’s no getting around it: A massive crisis essentially across the path of the eclipse must be expected, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Truly responding to it will test and redefine the interests of the Trumpencers especially: the ones who are rising up against the same old same old.

Can Trump actually at his ripe immature age grow? All year he’s being pressured by circumstances to develop some gravitas: Do it or die. The one who’s approached the presidency as a lark, another apparent stage for ego-based displays and appeals to the “lesser angels,” is in the process of being constrained: Saturn’s lengthy visitation. Is the Donald willing to act as more than a defiant, tantrum-prone clown figure, to reach the realization that greatness is as greatness does?

No doubt it will be quite a show. But hey, America loves emotional dramas, right?


Once again I must emphasize: Every region needs researchers / observers well versed in astro-weather techniques, working to identify, well in advance, periods of heat and drought, storm and inundation — and informing those willing to listen, and heed. The task doesn’t require computers, satellites and the Internet. It can — and eventually will — be done with ephemerides, tables of diurnal planetary motion, and tables of houses.
Just as in olden times.
It will even be fun. And it will be a service toward the survival and renewal of our respective communities.


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.


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