Shadow patterns from the eclipsed sun passing through the leaves of the tree outside my office shortly before sunset Sunday.
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21 May 2012
Shadow patterns from the eclipsed sun passing through the leaves of the tree outside my office shortly before sunset Sunday.
14 October 2011
The full moon, visible in the western sky above our sukkah shortly after sunrise this morning, day 2 of Sukkot.
08 April 2009
That moon phase display indicates the moon is 99% full. All the blooms suggest that we are well into Aviv. So it must be about time to escape whatever narrow places we may find ourselves enslaved in.
20 March 2009
This month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year.
It’s the first day of spring* and Nowruz, the Persian new year. Tomorrow, the 25th of Adar, is Shabbat ha-Chodesh on the Hebrew calendar, the Shabbat preceding the first of Nisan, when we remember the blooming of liberation. The 25 of Adar also just happens to be the anniversary of the day when your orchardist and his beloved were under the chupah.
So what better time to celebrate amidst the blooms?
03 February 2009
(moon and planet; photo taken just after sundown on 29 January 2009/ 5 Shvat 5769)
We may be only a days past the second new moon following the winter solstice, but I think we can say that spring is here at Ladera Frutal. The days have been clear, dry, and very warm since the second day of 2009. It is still chilly at night, thanks to all that clear and dry air. But signs of early spring are all around.
For example, the ‘Tropic Snow’ peach.
(photo taken on 31 January 2009)
This variety has a very low chilling requirement, and while it has begun blooming in late January many times before, I have never before seen it at nearly full bloom before the month of January was out!
Even the little ‘Garden Prince’ almond is starting to get into the act.
(photo taken on 29 January 2009 / 4 Shvat 5769)
Maybe this year it will be in full bloom by Tu Bi-Shvat! That’s now a less than a week away, but it just might make it.
The two trees pictured above are just a little way down the slope from Ladera Frutal HQ, where chill does not stick around in weather like this. Down in the corralito, on the other hand, it is still getting cold enough each night for continued daily chilling accumulation–barely. (As I type these words about an hour and a half past sundown, there is a 7-degree difference between the two locations.)
Even in the corralito, several trees will have many blooms in the coming days.
The ‘Mesch Mesch Amrah’ plumcot–always one of our favorite fruits–is about to burst with new leaves and a few blooms. This last picture was taken on 29 January. In the meantime, I have seen two or three flowers open. But it probably had only marginally sufficient chill this winter and it looks like it is leafing out without much of a bloom. Other trees nearby with at least a few flower buds swelling include the ‘Newcastle’ and ‘Katy’ and ‘Royal Rosa’ apricots and the ‘Flavor Delight’ aprium. All of these tend to be early, and have had the stray late-January bloom before, and all are pretty low chill. Even so, spring does seem to be just a bit early this year.
As for all those trees down in the corralito with higher chilling requirements, I am hoping they can hang on to their dormancy just a little longer. A blast of chill may come later this week, but it probably will not stick around long enough to reach the 500 chill hours that I normally could count on in this coldest part of Ladera Frutal. It could be a somewhat lean year for many of our deciduous fruit varieties.
26 January 2009
Somehow I forgot to note that last night was the second new moon following the winter solstice.
That makes this the Chinese New Year!
So, happy new year, wherever you may be celebrating. Of course, if you are doing so in China, you are not reading this. F&V is far too subversive to be read in the PRC. Must be all that pornography about luscious apricots!
Also, the second new moon following the winter solstice is Rosh Chodesh Sh’vat, meaning the new year for trees is two weeks from today.
Rejoice, as spring is coming!
Propagation: Seeds & scions (2)
11 January 2009
Visible here last night above the blueberries that are potted beneath the eaves of LF HQ, the first full moon following the winter solstice tells us two important things:
(Lunisolar calendars are the best!)
21 December 2008
Early this morning (just after 0400, Ladera Frutal time) was the winter solstice. Tonight’s darkness will be about one second shorter than last night’s, as the days begin to lengthen.1
When the sun sets tonight, it will be the 25th of Kislev, marking the first night of the 8-day festival of lights, Chanukah. The convergence of solar and lunar calendars this year is fortuitous, as we will be adding a candle each night for the week ahead, almost as if we are willing the sun to increase our day length–a little jump-start to what I like to think of as the solar new year.
Given the cycles of a 30-day lunar month2, the 25th of Kislev is, by definition, a week before the new moon. Hence the period straddling the full moon closest to the winter solstice is the darkest time of year, a perfect time for both literally and figuratively bringing new light into the world through the Chanukah celebration. The solstice and new moon will not always coincide this nicely, however.
A CBC item today notes how few people today even give the winter solstice a thought, yet the setting of various culture’s holidays, including Christmas, at this time of year is obviously a means of giving religious meaning to winter’s key solar event. Chanukah, however, clearly has one additional reason for its timing: this is the season of new oil,3 thereby providing a practical connection to the “great miracle” that occasioned the re-dedication of the Temple at the heart of the Chanukah story.
Chanukah and (solar) year’s end: the perfect opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to increasing the light in one another’s lives. Chag Urim Sameach!
2. Technically “lunar month” is a redundancy, given that month derives from moon, but the Gregorian months are not tied to moon cycles as are the Jewish ones.
3. In Mediterranean climates such as the land of Israel, or California, olives begin to be harvested in late autumn. So, whereas Sukkot is particularly associated with the grape (and wine!), whose harvest wraps up in late summer, Chanukah is associated with the olive (and its oil). That these two great fruits of Mediterranean agriculture have their 8-day festivals (with Sh’mini Atzeret actually a separate holiday, but immediately following Sukkot) is highly significant historically as well as agriculturally: The original Chanukah was a delayed Sukkot, because the war of religious freedom, led by the Maccabees, had to be won before the Temple could be re-dedicated. The war had prevented Sukkot from being observed that year.
Please see past year’s Chanukah plantings:
Propagation: Seeds & scions (3)
21 September 2008
The moon, as seen mid-morning on Sunday above the bananas, gives the distinct impression that there is barely more than a week left in the month. And, therefore, in the year 5768.
And, of course, tomorrow is the autumnal equinox.
20 June 2008
Just a little bit ago, at 4:59 p.m. Ladera Frutal Daylight Time (23:59 UTC), was the summer solstice. And it felt like it, too, as minutes before, the temperature peaked at 102. (That’s about 39 for those of you using the more sensible Celsius scale, though, really, “102″ just sounds more impressive.)
Yes, summer is here. We are celebrating with the ripening of the first ‘Tropic Snow’ peaches of the season–a rare kind of snow that can stand up to this heat.
23 March 2008
Noted, appropriately enough, in Time:
Neat article (dated 19 March, on Pope Gregory’s solar calendar). (Thanks to Jewschool for the tip.)
07 March 2008
It is Rosh Chodesh Adar II. That is, the new moon of the “second” Adar, the leap month added to the Jewish calendar to keep it in synch with the solar calendar. The solar cycle says it will be the first day of spring1 at the full moon of Adar II (give or take some hours2). And, of course, the full moon of Adar (II) is Purim–a time of revelry and celebration that marks the end of winter. Now, how cool is that convergence!3
Local observation suggests it is already spring.
Yes, it really is that green around here. And we have patches of orange and yellow poppies and purple lupines and other (unknown, to me) purple flowers and masses of dainty white flowers all over the finca. I have not seen a spring like this in our six here!
Most of the fruit trees of the corralito are now in bloom.
Yes, the poppies that are practically engulfing the little almond tree really are that orange and yellow!
I have even smelled a few citrus blossoms this week.
Spring is here!
02 January 2008
OK, so the (Gregorian) year just started about 17 hours ago. Even so, this will be hard to beat.
About 12 minutes later, the sky had changed quite a bit:
22 December 2007
—some links added, 23 Dec.—
Perhaps this New Year’s greeting seems a bit early, but it is not. Not for the sun, anyway. It is the start of Tekufah Tevet! Tonight is the night of darkness, after which the days start getting longer again. Otherwise known as the start of winter. That seems like a pretty good definition of a “new year” to me, because now the fruit trees have been dormant for a while and have received their first bit of chill, with (we hope) much more to come as we look towards the surging of the sap and eventually the blooms that will begin in less than two months.1 In fruit-growing terms, it certainly means now it it time to get those winter chores (e.g. dormant spraying, cover-cropping) done. Yes, a new year begins!
The sun just set moments ago through the notch in the ridge to our west that serves as Ladera Frutal’s solar observatory on what will be the longest night of the year. The solstice is 22 December, which this year coincides with 13 Tevet (the day on the Jewish calendar that just began, which by the way is Shabbat).2
The 13th would be pretty close to the full moon. Indeed, as soon as I turned around from the front entrance of LF HQ and looked the other way, there was the moon:
Not quite full–that will be Sunday night (here in California). So, it is not a perfect convergence–solstice, full moon, and Shabbat. But two of three is not bad.
Happy (Solar) New Year and Shabbat Shalom!
Propagation: Seeds & scions (1)
09 December 2007
Earlier Saturday, a rather nice rainbow appeared to end just above the banana grove.
Some showery storm clouds blew in, and then the clouds broke just before sundown. A nice bright and colorful way to usher in the year’s darkest 24-hour period: The night before the new moon closest to the winter solstice, a.k.a. the night of the fifth candle in the chanukiah. We’re past the halfway point of the Festival of Lights. The nights will be getting brighter–from our remaining three nights of adding a candle to the chanukiah and from the increasing moon–even as the daily sunlight will continue to diminish (by a mere five minutes) over the next two weeks.
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F&V time: This blog's date function is so set as to start a new day at approximately local sunset. (Why, if we have "day" and "night," should a new "day" start in the middle of the night?)
FRUITS: Support your local, organic growers; and, plant vines and fig trees and pomegranates for the generations to come...
VOTES: For democratization and full representation, for environmental sustainability, social justice, and peace, always sincerely...
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