The Ballet of Earth and The Heavens

Imbolc                                                                 Hare Moon

On the day we got 11 inches of snow I looked out the kitchen window into the orchard. The fruit trees had snow lining their branches, the hay bales and the wheelbarrow cum garden sculpture had disappeared and the snow climbed halfway up the tree trunks.  The tall cottonwoods and cedars, beyond the orchard to the west, also had snow outlining their canopies.

Behind them the sky was a bright blue, a happy color, celebrating the freshening of the landscape.

Then, from behind the cottonwood flew a murder of crows.  Blue, black, white.  Sky, crows, snow.  A moment in time, ephemeral like music.  Dancing the ballet of earth and the heavens were the dark birds.

Impacts of Climate Change

Imbolc                                                         Valentine Moon

Week 5 of the Climate Change course focuses on the impacts of climate change.  In 12_Midwest-pg_117-e.previewsome ways this may be the most important segment of the entire course because what captures public attention is the way climate change will affect matters close to home.  What, in other words, will happen to Minnesota or Singapore or Muhayil or Bon Aire, Georgia or Denver, Colorado?  What’s the likely impact on skiing?  Fishing?  Agriculture? Costs of heating and cooling?  Pest migration and plant migration?

Great Wheel may take on a more direct Minnesota focus when the Climate Change course finishes.  Right now I’m trying to put solid scientific knowledge underneath my work here, but goal might become informing and helping to prod Minnesota toward increasing its already strong commitments around mitigation and adaptation.  To that end I signed up for a three day Minnesota Climate Change Institute run by the Will Steger Foundation. It will happen in August.

Already existing relationships in the environmental community will help me keep abreast of the politics and science of climate work here.

These bullet points give an overview of what may happen in the Midwest:

  • The Midwest will likely experience hotter summers with longer dry periods and milder, wetter winters.
  • In Midwest urban areas, climate change will likely make it more difficult to maintain current summer air quality.
  • Climate change will likely place additional stress on infrastructure and the economy, particularly on shipping routes on the Great Lakes.
  • In the short-term, Midwest crop yields may benefit from less snow cover and a longer growing season.  USEPA Climate Impacts Website

And a graphic of significance to us gardeners:

Plant winter hardiness zones in the Midwest have already changed significantly as shown below, and are projected to shift one-half to one full zone every 30 years, affecting crop yields and where plant species can grow. By the end of this century, plants now associated with the Southeast are likely to become established throughout the Midwest. In the graphic, each zone represents a 10°F range in the lowest temperature of the year, with zone 3 representing –40 to –30°F and zone 8 representing 10 to 20°F. Image Source: © 2006 by Arbor Day Foundation®26; Image Reference: CMIP3-B27




Summer Evident in Winter

Winter                                                           Seed Catalog Moon

Ready for the last gallon freezer bag of raspberries.  Our raspberry patch produced day IMAG0935after day of good harvests, then went to every other day, and finally, when there was sometimes frost on the ground, every third day.  Kate took the fruit, put it on a cookie sheet, flash froze it in the freezer and then bagged them.  I’ve been eating them for breakfast since November.

We’re still using onions from last year and of course the canned tomatoes, dried garlic, herbs.  We also have dried apples and pears.  There are, too, 60 or so 1 pound jars of honey still boxed up.  This was our best year for honey sales so far.

The garden, with Kate’s preservation skills, maintains its presence throughout the year. This is a way in which the cycle of the Great Wheel folds back on itself, summer evident in winter, as it has for farming and gardening families for millennia.

Under the Seed Catalog Moon

Winter                                                               Seed Catalog Moon

Heard a woodpecker the other morning as I woke up.  We have pileateds that live in our pileated-woodpecker-male_1421_web1woods and they make a lot of racket as they pile drive that beak of theirs into the rotting trunks of dead poplar and oak.  There was, too, today dripping from our gutters, sagging snow and in some places that fragile, decayed look packed snow gets as it melts.

Under the seed catalog moon this adds up to the garden calling me from underneath its mounded white covers.  It is, I suppose, a form of cabin fever, a desire to get outside and do those ordinary chores, raking and digging, planting.  Seeing things live, burst through the ground.

The form it can take now is the planning.  Getting out those seed catalogs and that Farm Tek catalog, paging through them and imagining next years crops.  Deciding where to put them so I can order the right form of nitrogen in the right amounts.  That’s the type of gardening we can do under the seed catalog moon.