Trench deep; dig in the rotting weeds;
Slash down the thistle’s graybeard seeds;
Then make the frost your servant; make
His million fingers pry and break
The clods by glittering midnight stealth
Into the necessary tilth.
-Vita Sackville-West, “The Land”
Lunar phase and lore
The Deer Mating Moon, new on Nov. 13 at 5:08 p.m., waxes throughout the week, entering its second quarter at 9:31 a.m. Nov. 20. Rising in the morning and setting in the late afternoon, this moon travels above you in the middle of the day, making midday the most propitious lunar time to fish and look for game during this week of the month.
The moon’s influence is especially powerful as the cold fronts of Nov. 16 and 20 lower the barometer and increase the likelihood of precipitation. The moon’s position in Scorpio on Nov. 12 and 13 and in Capricorn on Nov. 16-18 offers excellent lunar conditions for planting spring bulbs, setting in new trees and shrubs and seeding bedding plants.
The Milky Way runs from east to west throughout November nights, cutting the sky in half at bedtime. The Big Dipper hugs the northern horizon then, and Orion rises over the Atlantic Ocean and the Allegheny Mountains.
Deep in the west, summer’s Cygnus is setting. Along the far eastern horizon, Sirius, the Dog Star, is just barely visible.
The Leonids are the shooting stars of November. Watch for them in the east after midnight on Nov. 17 and 18.
Nov. 15, 19 and 20 are the days next week most likely to be mild with highs in the 60s. The fifth cold front of the month comes through at the end of the period, however, and Nov. 21 brings a slight possibility for a high only in the 20s.
Nov. 15 is the day most likely to bring precipitation, having a 60 percent chance for rain or snow. Nov. 20 is also fairly damp, carrying a 50 percent chance. Nov. 18 is usually the driest day of the week; it has only a 20 percent chance for showers or flurries.
The passage of the seasons is most easily measured by observing events in nature. Each event of late fall is connected to other events and their power swells, overwhelming the remnants of early and middle fall, breaking the way for December.
Among the steps to early winter, find thimbleweed heads tufted like cotton and the soft heads of this summer’s cattails starting to break apart, asparagus yellowing in the garden, the last leaves of the white mulberry tree coming down, the last leaves of the ginkgoes falling and the last leaves of the silver maples shedding overnight.
Nov. 12: The average wind speed increases to its winter level throughout the year’s 11th month, and it will remain relatively high until early May. Bedding Plant Season for 2013 begins now: Put in your earliest bedding plants under tomorrow’s new moon.
Nov. 13: Today is new moon day. Expect an increase in behavior problems with children, significant others and parents. Crime often rises slightly at new and full moons, and hospital patients often may be more uncomfortable and restless.
Nov. 14: The upcoming Christmas market, while not as lucrative as the Easter market for sheep and goats, still offers opportunities to sell small milk-fed lambs and kids. The Jewish feast of Hanukkah increases your options. If you do not already sell to the ethnic market, consider investigating how you can match your breeding schedule to the needs of the diverse population in your region.
Nov. 15: Mulch wet perennial beds to prevent drying and cold damage.
Nov. 16: If you have problems with your heart, be especially careful of undertaking strenuous exercise during the more inclement months of the year. If you have high blood pressure, the cold can be even more dangerous. And the lengthening nights may cause a change in hormonal levels, which may contribute to heart attacks and strokes.
Nov. 17: Even though late fall is here, cabbageworms still eat the cabbage. Some years, houseflies still get in the back door. Crickets sing in the milder afternoons and nights. A few butterflies hunt for flowers. Grasshoppers are still common. Small tan moths, like the first to emerge in March, play in the sun.
Nov. 18: When you see budding Christmas cacti, the opening of climbing bittersweet, juncos at the bird feeder, the fall of the last maple and the burning bush leaves, a killing frost on your tomatoes, poinsettias in the supermarket and sparrow hawks on the high wires, early winter will just about be here.