Urban Almanac

The Urban Almanac: November 2016

By Diane Olson

A monthly compendium of random wisdom for the home, garden and natural world.

NOV 1 For the next couple weeks, we lose an additional three minutes of daylight every day. The rate then gradually slows; by the end of the month, it’s down to only one per day, continuing until the Winter Solstice.

NOV 2 Look for Saturn and Venus just below the waxing moon tonight.

NOV 3 This month’s flower, the chrysanthemum, is one of the “Four Gentlemen” in Chinese art—plants that represent the unfolding of the seasons. The Four Gentlemen are the orchid (spring), bamboo (summer), chrysanthemum (autumn) and plum blossom (winter).

NOV 4 The slow but steady Taurids meteor shower peaks tonight, just after midnight, radiating from the constellation Taurus.

NOV 5 Last year, this was the first day of snowy drizzle—snizzle?—in the valley. If it’s not snizzling, this would be a good day to turn the compost pile one last time and cover it with a tarp.

NOV 6 DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME ENDS. Time to turn the clock back an hour. The bacteria in your gut have their own circadian clock, coordinated to daylight and meal times. Changing when you eat and sleep really ticks them off—and can cause gastrointestinal diseases and weight gain. Taking melatonin at bedtime can help sync you and your gut’s schedules, especially around the time changes.

NOV 7 FIRST QUARTER MOON. Mulberry trees have an endearing/maddening habit of dropping every single leaf in one swell foop. This is the day when the ones along my park strip usually fall.

NOV 8 ELECTION DAY. Make your voice heard. VOTE! The word topaz may have come from a Sanskrit word for fire, as this month’s birthstone was once believed to draw the heat from fevers. A silicate, topaz is most often found in areas rich in granite and rhyolite, such as Topaz Mountain near Delta, Utah..

NOV 9 Having guests over for Thanksgiving? Make sure your plumbing is in order. The day after Thanksgiving is the single busiest day of the year for plumbers, so now’s a good time to ensure all systems are go.

NOV 10 Got ice melt on hand? Buy it now, so you’ll be prepared. Look for organic salt-free deicer or alfalfa meal.

NOV 11 If you can do it safely, clear the leaves and gunk out of rain gutters now, before the snow sticks.

NOV 12 Planning to get a live Christmas tree? Dig the hole now. This is also a great time to prune ivy and Virginia creeper.

NOV 13 A perigean spring (high) tide occurs when the new or full moon coincides with perigee, the moon’s closest approach to Earth. Tomorrow’s full super-duper supermoon will cause dramatically high and low tides for the next three days.

NOV 14 FULL FROST MOON/SUPERMOON. Tonight’s isn’t just the closest full supermoon of the year (221,524 miles from Earth vs. an average 238,900), it’s the closest the moon will be to Earth for the next 18 years—until November 25, 2034. And it’s the nearest it has been since 1948.

NOV 15  Daddy longlegs get down. Depending on the species, mating can last up to four hours, with all kinds of nipping and leg pulling. In one species, L. aldrichi, the male grabs the female’s second leg—only the second leg will do—and gives her a good shake. Unlike their spider cousins (daddy longlegs are arachnids but not, technically, spiders), they appear to mate recreationally, rather than just procreationally.

NOV 16 FULL HUNTERS MOON/ SUPERMOON. The moon’s orbit around Earth is changeable; sometimes it’s oval, sometime more round. So its distance is changeable, too. Thus supermoons; full or new moons that are closer than usual. This month and the next two have full supermoons.

NOV 17 The Leonids meteor shower peaks tonight and tomorrow night, but will be mostly washed out by the waning supermoon. Best viewing will be after midnight.

NOV 18 Environmentalist and local hero Tim DeChristopher was born on this day in 1981. Not in Utah, but in West Virginia—but I say we claim him as our own.

NOV 19 This would be a great time to scrub down the kitchen, including the fridge and stove. Look for non-toxic cleaner recipes on porch.com.

NOV 20 In fall and winter, houseplants need less water, but more mist. Also, hold the fertilizer until the Spring Equinox.

NOV 21 LAST QUARTER MOON. Bed bugs release an alarm pheromone that smells like coriander. If your hotel room or bed smells coriander-ish, find another hotel posthaste. Unless you happen to travel with fresh kidney bean leaves, which contain microscopic filaments that impale the little bloodsuckers.

NOV 22 Nineteenth-century New Englanders believed that pumpkin flesh, applied externally, cured snake bite, wrinkles and freckles.

NOV 23 In Aztec mythology, Chalchiuhtotolin, the Precious Night Turkey, was a cruel god who brought sickness and disease. Turkeys were first domesticated between 100 BC-100 AD by the Maya.

NOV 24 Wild turkeys are badass. They sleep in trees, can fly 55 mph in short bursts, have periscopic vision, gobble loud enough to be heard over a mile away and turn crazy colors when aroused. A group of turkeys is called a gang, posse, raffle, crop or dole.

NOV 25 Cool word of the month: Lucida, the brightest star in a constellation.

NOV 26 The human mouth may contain 500-1,000 different types of bacteria, which form complex, sometimes cooperative, communities.

NOV 27 Remember to change the furnace filter every three months. You’ll breathe better and need to dust less if you use high-efficiency pleated ones.

NOV 28 The average person gains one to two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

NOV 29 NEW MOON.  The new moon occurs when our satellite is sandwiched between Earth and the sun, with its lighted half facing away. It’s only visible during a solar eclipse, when it’s illuminated by earthshine.

NOV 30  Cats can drink salt water if they have to. Their kidneys filter the salt, while utilizing the water.   u

Diane Olson is the author of Nature Lover’s Almanac, a content strategist at MRM/McCann and longtime CATALYST writer.

This article was originally published on November 1, 2016.