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Hard Rains 09/11/2015

Posted by zoidion in Climate, Event, Long Emergency, permaculture, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It was yet another gloriously sunny, mild day–well-suited to starting the process of finding my roots again. After just a few hours sleep, some mysterious internal switch flicked on with a message: time to get outside in the first light, while the sliver of waning Moon, Venus, Mars and Jupiter (lowest to highest) could afford a celestial greeting.

And so I got to work, hauling, two at a time, about fifteen tall brown-paper bags stuffed with dry leaves  from a few doors down the alley. No sense in letting them disappear when I can use them for compost and winter insulation on garden beds.

There was no hurry in the cool but far from frosty air. It was good, helpful even, to look around at the silhouettes of trees, their forms bared by the winds and shorter days of my week away. It was necessary to let thoughts, recollections, images from my sojourn float through consciousness.

Some were of natural wonder from the gardens of the Smithsonian:


Others were of the nutritional wisdom contained in the three sisters (maize, beans and squash) growing outside the National Museum of the American Indian:


Some were of the ongoing overlording presence of national governments over the affairs of indigenous affairs, represented in the Capitol dome shrouded in scaffolding:


Some were of the marvels of aquatic gardens, viewed from dry land:



But it was difficult to shake off remembrance of more disturbing images, mostly from the Newseum. The section of the Berlin Wall and the reconstructed watchtower topped with searchlight: all white, for contrast with any would-be escapee from the East, the easier for gunning down. The rooms on the U.S. civil rights struggle, its vicious side and, yes, its decency and courage. The 9/11 area, with its twisted section of broadcast antenna from one of the World Trade Towers, and the wrecked cameras of the photographer who ran toward trouble that terrible morning. In another area, the tall wall nearly covered with photographs of journalists whose dedication has cost them their lives. The room with walls covered with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs, nearly all of them of tragedies: of accidents, firefights, executions.

Where’s the good news? And where are any latter-day stories about the compromises, the coverups, the failures of fat-cat corporate news? Not at the Newseum. It’s all yesterdays’ sorrows and sacrifices. There wasn’t the slightest hint of anything as truly ugly as the story within the documentary “Truth.”

The motto there is: There’s more to every story. 

Indeed there is.

More and more, in this new age of climate chaos, there’s literal meaning in Bob Dylan’s timeless phrase: “A hard rain’s a-gonna fall.” And more and more, displaced people are on the move: from submerging islands, from Bangladesh, soon from Florida (if not already).

On top of drought and war effects in the Middle East, strange rains are hitting as well.

Two tropical cyclones within a week — unprecedented — affected Yemen and islands offshore. And rare heavy rainstorms inundated parts of Iraq, where water supplies, sanitation and availability of electricity have been undermined by decades of war and economic sanctions. And where millennia of deforestation have fundamentally altered the landscape and its ability to absorb, contain and ultimately use rare excess moisture.

(These are prime candidates for permaculture practices, at small scale, in some pockets apart from the surges of war and streams of refugees. See “The Greening of the Desert.”)

(Both these weather stories popped up on Rice Farmer’s blog.)

These are freak events, but certainly some freakish events could be anticipated by any reasonably competent astro-meteorologist noting the relevant seasonal and lunation charts for the region of the Arabian peninsula.

The potential — the likelihood at some point — is rather obvious: The water sign Pisces on the crucial lower meridian, along with Neptune therein: oceanic Neptune associated especially with flooding.


The core indication simply needed a cosmic trigger: October’s Full Moon. That was the period when the Venus-Mars-Jupiter cluster (in opposition to Neptune) was tightest: within only three degrees of longitude. Crossing the upper meridian of the season chart. And upon the horizon at Full Moon.



“Iraq was hit by multiple days of heavy rain that, when combined with the country’s aging infrastructure, caused major flooding in Baghdad and other areas, resulting in deaths and health problems. In areas of Baghdad where infrastructure is decrepit, streets and houses were flooded with rainwater and sewage. Some areas are still flooded despite days of clear weather following the rains.” – International Business Times

Alas, the ecological and social fabrics were already shredded. And once either or both are allowed to fray, collapse is what follows. Increasingly under weather events. (Watch what happens with South Carolina.)

Hard rains indeed.



Cricket Crescendo 04/09/2015

Posted by zoidion in Climate, forecast, permaculture, urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: I don’t think it’s that my ears are suddenly more sensitive, and I don’t think it’s because the weather has turned warmer and more humid: I do think the crickets are making more noise these late-season nights. I think they sense that their time is running short: The average date of first frost is 8 October.
Along with notably shortening days (now two-and-a-half hours shorter than on the summer solstice), other changes are readily observable. The ferns, among the first plants to show life with their fiddle-heads, have turned almost completely brown, while most of the jack-in-the-pulpit leaves have turned yellow, their seed-clusters a brilliant red.
jack-pulpit0001The large clump of spiderwort out front, under the river birch, has done its annual flop.
Among the human-food plants, I note the extent of new growth on the two hazelnut bushes–respectable–and begin to anticipate next season’s year-three eruption; I’m quite fond of their fine-toothed, heart-shaped leaves.
I marvel once again at the excessive growth on the cherry tree: I’ll have to prune it again, to remove the downward-growing branches and some of the general tangle. How little remained after my pruning job last March.
Much of the yard was intolerably overgrown by July, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time and energy in the past month cutting back. It was hard to get up the steps to the deck, between the two elderberry bushes, so as soon as I’d harvested most of the berries I cut them back substantially. I’d already decided to take out one of them this fall–the one that’s been morning-shading an area that I’ve been working on bringing into production–and I’m glad that now a neighbor has expressed interest in adopting it.
I also dug out a clump of milkweed plants: There are plenty of other milkweeds nearby on which the monarch can feed and reproduce, and I’d found no chrysalis attached to any of “my” milkweed. I had pulled out several twisted plants that made it a challenge to walk the old concrete path through the backyard, and was impressed by how quickly new milkweed plants popped up to replace them. And so, when digging time came, there was an extensive horizontal root system just a couple of inches below the surface. That was a revelation. I figure that can be a spot to which to move the perennial vegetable Good King Henry that has done well enough the past two seasons, even though shaded by two black currant bushes. (I read, though, that GKH is difficult to re-establish after transplanting; I’d best choose the timing carefully: a waning Moon–for healthy roots–preferably in Taurus (as on 30 September and 1 October, or Moonday 5 October, with Moon waning in Moon-ruled Cancer.)
Also, there’s a New England aster to move: It’s so tall and wide that it’s throwing too much shade on some of the veggies.
Oh, in animal news, the–hopefully the, rather than a–woodchuck fell for the lure of peanut butter last week. This time, s/he got a second chance in other territory a couple of miles away. But on the journey I reflected on the absurdity and waste of fossil fuel involved in delivering the critter there.
And, at long last, I got a rocket stove–essentially a miniature chimney, requiring far less wood than an open fire–set up in the backyard. The idea is to have an auxiliary cooking arrangement, a non-fossil-fuel option, to use during the summer, to put less heat into the house. But I failed in my first several attempts to get a flame going in the small fire chamber, even using matches. That was humbling, especially when recollecting my onetime ability to generate fire with a bow and drill.
Overall, there’s markedly less to do in the garden now than in the spring, and that’s a welcome shift, bringing the luxury of more time and energy for other projects, and indulgences.
One of the latter is Nick Dagan Best’s “I Love Astrology” podcast: as might be expected of him, a tautly-paced romp. His episode three on censorship of astrologers touches on situations involving Evangeline Adams in the U.S., Alan Leo in the U.K, and Karl Ernst Krafft and Elsbeth Ebertin in Germany, among others. For folks with an interest in the history of astrology, it’s definitely worth a listen.
And one of these mornings–whenever we here are spared the smoke haze from the burning of the West–I’m sure I’ll see Venus and Mars rising before the Sun. (Both, you may recall, were visible in the evening sky after sunset during the past winter, spring and early summer.)

But what about El Nino, the subject of so much weather buzz of late, and whether or not rainstorms will be able to break through the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge?
Well, El Nino, as most weather watchers know by now, is a disruption–particularly evident through fall and winter months in Earth’s northern hemisphere–of usual weather patterns that is related to an unusual warming of equatorial waters in the eastern Pacific ocean. (The most recent very strong El Nino–in 1997-98–brought very heavy rains to California: more than twice the average at San Francisco, and the most since 1862, when vast areas of northern California flooded.)
The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge is in the way of such rains reaching parched lands. The RRR is a persistent region of atmospheric high pressure that has been “in place” off the Pacific coasts of the U.S. and Canada since December 2012. (Hmmm . . . — What did those astronomically-minded Mayans have to say about climate?) The RRR, related to a large region of high oceanic water temperatures off the West Coast of North America, has been effectively blocking the usual storm systems from coming onshore, resulting in severe and exceptional drought and conditions conducive to the exceptional 2015 summer season of wildfires in the American and Canadian West.
Many people are hoping, praying, assuming that the current extremely warm waters of the eastern Pacific will provide relief from the extreme drought. Um, it might, and it might not. On the one hand, El Nino is no guarantee of exceptional rains along the West Coast, or a mild and rather snow-free winter here in the upper Mississippi valley.
On the other, a fall and winter marked by perhaps record-breaking rains could go a long way toward filling those many empty and nearly-empty reservoirs, and perhaps arresting the collapse of California’s Big Ag corridor. But on still another, those downpours, hitting slopes dotted with drought-dead trees or cleared by wildfires, would just as likely cause widespread mudslides and floods.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
It’s a time of one peculiar and worrisome phenomenon after another–craters, big ones (likely caused by methane eruptions), appearing in Siberia; vast regions burned over, others blanketed with a smoky haze; toxic red blooms of bacteria generating oceanic dead zones; purple waves washing Oregon’s shores; Caribbean beaches choked with seaweed blooms; a “real and imminent” thaw of Earth’s permafrost zone; signs of a slowdown of the Gulf Stream. And have I mentioned Greenland and Antarctica?

But the question of the moment: Will an El Nino deliver rains in quantity to the Pacific coast of North America?
Related to that, a most unusual succession of Pacific typhoons has formed lately, most moving typically west. But one did something strange: After brushing Japan, it kept going northeast, punching through the Bering Strait and delivering a jolt of heat to the Arctic Ocean–similar to what the “weather bomb” of Typhoon Nuri did in 2014, “kickstarting” winter.
And in the past few days, the eastern Pacific has sported a most unusual collection of four typhoons at once.
earth.nullschool.04092015Source: Earth.nullschool.net — wind pattern on 4 September 2015

Such peculiarities reflect the rare Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune configuration that is currently shaping up. And note that the typhoon lineup, more pronounced a few days ago, formed in the days following the Full Moon during which Sun was conjunct Jupiter and Moon was conjunct Neptune. This likely heralds a shift in the prevailing pattern.
However, the typhoons don’t often head north before reaching Asian shores, but one storm system (not a typhoon) in mid-May 2015 did break through the RRR and deliver unusual flooding rains to San Diego. (The relevant lunation chart showed water sign Cancer on the crucial lower meridian, along with Venus–also signifying moisture–in Cancer.)
That’s the sort of thing needed to break through the RRR, and begin to break the drought.
And there’s an indication of a coming shift: the movement of Mercury, symbol of wind. Mercury crossed the zero-degrees-Libra point–the Sun’s place on the northern autumn equinox (23 September)–on 27 August. But on the equinox Mercury will be in apparent retrograde motion (beginning 17 September), until 9 October: when it will sit in the first degree of Libra. That will in all likelihood be when the pattern will start to alter.
That doesn’t mean rain will begin falling that day on the most parched areas. After all, the Sun in astro-meteorology represents dry and warm conditions. Of course.
But significantly, in the equinox astro-map, the Sun-on-the-lower-meridian line runs off the the U.S. West Coast, and through Vancouver Island and western British Columbia. The Sun-Mercury combination suggests movement or dissipation of the notorious Ridge.

Lib-ing-2015Sun line: dashed red. Mercury line: dashed yellow.

How much of a shift is a subject for further investigation. Stay tuned.


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