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Views and opinions: The second Supermoon of the year is already upon us


Jan. 22-28, 2018

If there is nothing new on the earth, still the traveler always has a resource in the skies. They are constantly turning a new page to view. The wind sets the types on this blue ground, and the inquiring may always read a new truth there. There are things there written with such fine and subtle tinctures, paler than the juice of limes, that to the diurnal eye they leave no trace, and only the chemistry of night reveals them.

-Henry David Thoreau

Almanac horoscope

The Frolicking Fox Moon becomes more powerful the closer it comes to the end of the month, and on Jan. 30 it reaches perigee (its powerful position closest to Earth) at 4:54 a.m. The next day, at 8:26 a.m., that moon is completely full, becoming a Blue Moon (the second full moon in the same month) as well as a Supermoon – the second in 2018.

Rising in the middle of the day and setting in the middle of the night, this moon will pass overhead late in the evening. Although not quite as powerful as the New Year’s Moon, this lunar event is likely to negate any hope for a Groundhog Day thaw.

A total eclipse of the Moon will occur in the morning of Jan. 31, but it will only be completely visible in Hawaii, Alaska and western Canada. On the other hand, it will be partially visible at moonset throughout most of the continental United States.

The sun: On Jan. 31, the sun reaches one-fourth of its way to spring equinox. Now the days are more than 10 hours long and the night is about 45 minutes shorter than it was just five weeks ago.

The planets: Jupiter and Mars are still the morning stars this week. Look for them in the southeast in Libra.

The stars: The middle of the night this week not only features the second Supermoon and Blue Moon of the year, but it also shows off all the bright, imposing stars of Orion and Canis Major (with its huge light, Sirius) and Canis Minor (with its slightly less prominent star, Procyon).

You may also be able to make out Cancer, looking a little like a person walking, following behind those winter dogs. There are no major meteor showers this week.

Weather trends

Jan. 26 is the first day of the season of late winter. This season contains 5-6 major cold fronts and lasts from Jan. 26-Feb. 18. Although this period can be one of the coldest of the year in the North, its thaws accelerate the swelling of buds and the blooming of early bulbs.

The cold front due near Jan. 25 often puts an abrupt end to chances for a January thaw. Secondary frontal conditions, sometimes carrying moist Gulf air, can set off powerful blizzards around Jan. 27.

Starting on Jan. 28, average temperatures start to rise 1 degree per week. But lunar perigee on Jan. 30, with the full moon on Jan. 31, create a strong likelihood of heavy precipitation, followed by severe cold.

The natural calendar: The foliage of the oak-leaf hydrangea has fallen in the past weeks. The Osage fruits have turned deep red-brown. The berries of the euonymus are falling from their decaying, once protective sepals.

Black walnut hulls are dark and collapsing, fall away at the touch of your heel. Only a few box elder seeds are hanging from their branches, thinning now like the honeysuckle berries.

Cued by changes in last year’s flora, fresh growth often emerges on the Japanese honeysuckle, its leaves venturing out from the axils of the woody vines. In the garden, a few red nubs of peonies may have appeared. Garlic mustard is lush on the hillsides. In the swamps, young poison hemlock is feathery and spreading. New ragwort and sweet rocket leaves are pushing up.

Full moon this week is expected to aggravate seasonal stress in many people. Health care personnel and public service workers can expect a higher-than-normal number of problems throughout the period. Although your spirits may be lagging, your asthma should have improved over the past weeks: Some research shows that in spite of the arrival of pine tree pollen, January is the best month of the year for those afflicted with other kinds of allergies.

After full moon on Jan. 31, seasonal affective disorders will begin to lighten somewhat, and crime, medical emergencies and depression should become less common.

Field and garden

There is no better time than January to force daffodils and tulips into bloom. If you don’t have any, go out and cut a pussy willow branch, put it in some nice warm sugar water and then watch March appear.

Outside, snowdrops, some daffodils and hyacinths may be up about an inch in the warmest parts of region. Snow crocuses are sometimes 2 inches above the mulch, ready to bud. Henbit, bittercress and chickweed are slowly spreading across the garden.

Fish, game, livestock and birds: By the middle of January, the steady growth of the day’s length intensifies the mating cycle, and cardinal song begins to consistently precede sunrise by about half an hour. As January comes to a close, the season of cardinal mating song coincides with the season of robin and bluebird migration, both seasons announcing the first blossoms of aconites and snowdrops in the warmest microclimates of the Miami Valley. Early arrival of Tundra Swans is possible now along the Lake Erie shore.

Fish throughout the cold of the night as the barometer drops before the Jan. 25 and 30 fronts. The violence of the Supermoon front at January’s end may encourage movement in all animals and humans before the moon turns full.

Now is the time to reevaluate your hay supply for nutrient levels. Unless you know the quality of your forage, it is difficult to make sound management decisions concerning the amount of supplements to provide your animals. And – except for genes – nutrients are the most important part of developing your herd and flock.

Marketing notes: After Mardi Gras (Feb. 13) and Chinese New Year (Feb. 16) comes Dominican Republic Independence Day on Feb. 27. Inspired by these occasions, the demand for lamb, chicken and chevon may rise.

Almanac classics

The Laugh Was on Them

We lived in Northfield in 1965. We lived in a small house quite a way back in the field. We had a real nice wood and coal cook stove and a pump in the kitchen. Our bathroom was outside. It was hard, and we loved it.

We had one dog and a billy goat which was real mean when he wanted to be. One day, (it was Nov. 14), my husband had gone to the store and to visit with his mom. I was baking cookies. I had about four dozen sugar cookies made. I put them on the table, and then I went to the outhouse.

I was shocked when I got back to the kitchen. I could not believe my eyes. The children had let the goat and dog in the house. My cookies were all over the floor. The goat was eating the flour, and the sugar was all over.

I got the broom and opened the back door and started chasing the goat out the door, but he came back in the front door. I’ll bet I chased that goat a half an hour before I got the door closed so he could not get back in.

None of the nine kids would tell me who did it. But guess what? They had to clean it all up, and so the laugh was on them!