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Turn, Turn, Turn 05/08/2017

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Climate, Hellenistic, homesteading, Long Emergency, Mundane, Photography, urban agriculture.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The growing season has been a predominantly pleasant and productive one in the upper Mississippi River region. Only a few bumps have thus far appeared on the path to harvest: the state’s earliest-ever tornadoes, and — in the first week of June — a hailstorm that pummeled the more tender leaves and prompted a call for snow plows a few miles from this reporter’s domicile.

Now, amazingly, the first dry, golden leaves are falling. I noticed it first in front of the house, under the river birch tree. Later in the day, as I reached around, under, above the arching canes — reaching for the heavy clusters of fruit — of the elderberry bush, I could see some of its compound leaves, now a pale yellow.

The days are beginning to be noticeably shorter here as the month of golden Leo proceeds. The first reminder of summer’s imminent end arrived this week, right on cosmic schedule for this region.

The week has been a busy one, particularly due to the sequence of harvesting, stripping, mashing a great plenty of elderberries — all from one bush — and beginning the wine-making process. Nearly two weeks earlier than in 2014 and 2015 — I skipped wine-making last year, letting friends pick the fruit for medicinal syrup.

The hands-on work has been welcome amidst the mental and emotional work that has attended sessions at two conferences: the first Transition National Gathering at Macalester College in St. Paul, and a grassroots democracy conference. Both have been energizing tribal get-togethers, and both have been reminders of the urgency of the world situation.

At the latter event, Jill Stein and Ronnie Cummins spoke about “connecting the dots” of a myriad of efforts and organizations — about the need for mutual support on the issues of food, climate, health and democracy. Stein outlined a fourfold emergency response, transforming renewable energy (unspoken though: a much-reduced energy diet from North American standards), food, transportation and ecological systems. Cummins emphasized the huge cadre — 519,000 — of elected and appointed officials in the US, and — without relying primarily on their receptivity — their charge to serve their constituents. 

Much change is in the air: For example, in Minneapolis the herbicide-loving majority on the Park and Recreation Board is on the way out of office, due to public pressure and failure to receive further endorsement.

Cummins referred to other numbers: five hundred million small-holding farmers worldwide, along with two hundred million herders, fifty million industrial farmers, and two-and-a-half million organic farmers. All of them are wrestling with tidal waves of systemic change.

Vital — not a single cure-all — is waves of practical, on-the-ground support in natural processes that can restore land and oceans. Reversing many destructive trends, cooperating in Gaia’s restorative powers  — possible yes, but how likely, especially given such views, with the backing of big money, as this:

We can talk about the complexities of Monsanto as a ruthlessly capitalistic company all day long, but their products, the technology itself, is safe and it’s hard for people to wrap their heads around that. . . .  Here is this company with a rather checkered past, on the one hand, and on the other hand, this technology seems to be able to do the world a lot of good. How do we reconcile those things? – Trace Sheehan, producer/writer of “Food Evolution”

Ah yes, what an oh-so-natural-sounding title, eh? And such a benign attitude: as if the “complexities” ought to be regarded separately from the technology. (What a prospect: nine billion humanoids, all watched over by machines of loving grace.) But actually, for decades on end, food has been given a series of technological shoves.

Anyway — you certainly don’t need (or, likely, want) a lecture on the workings and notions of industrial agriculture. You’ve likely been doing your own homework, and drawing your own conclusions, for quite a while.

At bottom, the message of “Food Evolution” certainly would seem to be: Let’s keep business-as-usual going, despite its manifold reported failures.

I really don’t see that approach to the current existential crisis getting off the ground, so to speak.

The breakdown of ecological, economic, cultural, political systems is undeniable — unless, probably, one is paid to deny.

My own vision of the glories of genetic engineering — and its accompanying regular use of herbicides, leading to the emergence of super-weeds — includes the testimony of one with first-hand experience in the early stages of  restoration. Sitting around a conference table at the Transition event, one presenter talked of ten-foot-tall “trees” of ragweed on her modest-sized tract formerly rented out for conventional agriculture: descendants of those that survived the chemical attacks. Those would have to be cut down with saws or chain-saws, and the fields worked over by her goats in subsequent years.

Grief, acknowledged or not, is ever-present. One presenter, a local community college teacher, had invited several of her students to bring their stories to a session of “climate grief.”  Several were from Somalia and Ethiopia, conveying the perspective of increasingly frequent drought years, of “pirates” (at least initially) seeking to drive away shiploads of industrial wastes, of mass dislocation and political repression stemming from the illegal sale of agricultural lands to Chinese investors, for food exports.

Some analysts of Gaia’s systems are convinced that the tipping point is already past, some others that three years remain — until 2020 — in which to begin reversing the trends.

Not all was grim and dire: There was a teleconference with Shaun Chamberlin in the UK, sharing audio and video clips of the late happy warrior David Fleming. And, after the gathering’s conclusion, a walk with several first-time visitors from the campus to the gorge of the Mississippi River, witnessing a glorious sunset and noticing the different plants along the way.

In “my” own yard, bounteous, beautiful food is streaming forth — along with a great hatch of ravenous Japanese beetles. (They are especially fond of the cylindrical pale-purple flowers on the anise hyssop — for intoxication apparently, not for food.) The first big heads of broccoli are contributing to many a breakfast scramble, the cucumbers are about to produce their green deluge — though I missed one, now yellow and destined to yield seed for next year’s crop.

And the other day, a hummingbird briefly zoomed in and hovered, visiting perhaps in search of artificial food — none of that here.

When I look, observe and see, I find beauty aplenty.

Always, there is majesty in the sky and in the movements of the sky beings. Luna is in the glorious pre-Full phase, leading to the lunar eclipse (not visible from North America). And then, the greatly anticipated Great American Solar Eclipse of 21 August. Interest is running at a frenzied pitch. Even Newsweek has run a piece on the astrological significance for not-really-president Trump.

The astrological community, of course, has been abuzz for many months, focusing particularly on the fact that the eclipse hits Trump’s so-much-in-evidence Mars as well as his ascendant. As could be expected, there were a variety of interpretations among the astrologers who presented the “Eclipse Master Class” via AstrologyHub.

Can he remain in office? It’s hard to imagine, given the ongoing intensifying political circus. Will he go — soon or later?

It seems that too few astrologers have made extensive studies of eclipses’ significance, how long their effect lasts and starting when.

Ben Dykes, translator of ancient astrological texts, opined that events of early December 2017 — when Saturn reaches a trine (one-third of the zodiacal circle) from the eclipse point — will offer hints of what is to come, while the main period of intensity of effects will run from March to October 2019. The eclipse occurring at the end of the zoidion Leo indicates the conclusion of a situation — of a would-be king occupying his throne (or Offal Office)? He foresaw scandal primarily involving Trump’s children — Venus in Cancer at right angle to Jupiter in Libra in the eclipse chart, repeating the pattern in Trump’s natal: Jupiter being lord of the fifth place (children) in the natal — but  not being  personally harmed in a physical way.

Saturn in the first place of the eclipse chart, cast for Washington, indicates much national trouble, since Saturn is lord of the second place. One doesn’t need astrology to see that, but it does confirm a deepening “time of troubles”  for this mismanaged nation, this unraveling empire.

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Eclipse queen Bernadette Brady pointed, in part, to previous eclipses on the day before at nineteen-year intervals, thus at the same zodiacal degree. In 1979, there were nuclear-weapons tests by the USA, UK and USSR; in 1998, there were provocative terrorist attacks in Kenya and Tanzania that were answered with US attacks on Afghanistan, and a significant satellite launch by North Korea.

Now, again, the Korean peninsula is on edge, with Chinese, Russian, Japanese and American military forces and populations watching anxiously. Brady interprets the imminent solar eclipse as denoting danger from action in haste or in seeking revenge (Mars close to the eclipse point): patience is of great importance, as is how one acts while waiting; legal and constitutional crises are in process.

The sense of crisis in Washington, especially, is obvious and deepening.

What has been little noted, however, is the symbolic impact of the Great American Eclipse on the chart of the office of the presidency. The configuration of the former upon the latter confirms the extreme pressures brought by various claimants to power and the highly-charged state of the people at large.

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Recognize: The nature and functioning of the presidency will be deeply and irrevocably altered by the events of the coming months. It will be some time before the shape of the new dispensation is evident.

Significant news and hints of largely hidden developments can be expected around and soon after the Mercury direct station — at the eclipse degree — which occurs on 5 September.

As for the Gaian crisis: Well, Saturn’s entry into Capricorn — where Saturn is lord in the most serious, down-to-earth sense — occurs only thirty-six hours before Sol enters Capricorn on 21 December 2017.

Crunch time, folks.

-<zoidion>-

Be sure to catch Australoger Ed Tamplin’s commentary.

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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.)

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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

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