Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac Autumn 2020

By Greta Belanger deJong

Oct 8  Pick up a variety of root crops at the farmers market this week. Buy some to culture—say, cabbage and carrots with your favorite seasoning (I like fresh ginger and cumin). In a few days your ferment will be delicious and teeming with the beneficial bacteria that make your gut healthy.

Oct 9  Save up to 10% on heating costs by reversing the direction of your ceiling fans. A clockwise rotation at low speed pulls cool air up which pushes warm air down along the walls and back to the floor.

Oct 10  Not up for a full-fledged yard sale or even a trip to the D.I.? Put stuff on the curb with a “free  “sign.

Oct 11  If you wake up feeling dehydrated, here may be why: We lose about a liter of water each night via the humidity in our breath, according to Michael Breus, the Sleep Doctor. He also reports insufficient sleep can disrupt the release of vasopressin, a hormone that is key to hydration.

Oct 12  Yet another reason to not get Covid right now: You’d miss out on all the great autumnal smells. Bring on the cinnamon, nutmeg, apples, marigolds and falling leaves!

Oct 13  Speaking of changing leaves: There may still be time. Check out Smokymountains.com, a fall color tracking tool. Updated weekly.

Oct 14  If you’re a registered voter in Utah, your ballot will be mailed between now and October 27. If you do not receive a ballot shortly after this time, immediately contact your county clerk’s office. SL County: 385-468-7400.

Oct 15  Conflict Resolution Day, today, celebrates the peacemakers among us. Interested in becoming a mediator? Check out UtahDisputeResolution.org

Oct 16  NEW MOON @ 1:32pm. No moonlight. Are the fires over? Pack your warm clothes and head south for a good look at the Milky Way.

Oct 17  Many SLC neighborhoods, especially near the University, have flocks of California quail. They were introduced to Fort Douglas in 1869 as a game bird. Each year, wildlife biologists capture some to relocate to rural areas where food supply for the birds will be more secure, and to increase their habitat range.

Oct 18  Time to sign up for National Novel Writing Month. Take up the challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel during the 30 days of November. NaNoWriMo.org

Oct 19  If you see spiders in your garden, leave them alone. They are the only natural enemy of the brown marmorated stinkbug, a garden pest which first arrived in Utah from Asia (via eastern states) in 2012.

Oct 20  While they look bulky, porcupines weigh only 9-13 lbs. They can live up to 30 years, at least in captivity. They are mating (noisily) this month in Utah. In seven months, one baby will be born. The quills, soft at birth, will harden in an hour.

Oct 21  Orionids Meteor Shower is produced by dust grains left behind by Halley’s comet, observed since ancient times. The shower runs from October 2 to November 7 but peaks tonight.

Oct 22  If you’re trying to come up with a unique scary costume this year, consider these fears: Xanthophobia: fear of the color yellow. Turophobia: fear of cheese. Coulrophobia: fear of clowns. Hylophobia: fear of trees. Omphalophobia: fear of the navel. Nomophobia: fear of being without mobile phone coverage.

Oct 23  Time to check the weatherstripping around doors and window. Sealing gaps may reduce your energy bill by up to 15%.

Oct 24  European Union law bans 1,328 chemicals from personal-care products. By contrast, the U.S. FDA has banned or restricted only 11.

Oct 25  Wonder where dust comes from? Half of it comes from your body. Each human sloughs off an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every minute, day in and day out!

Oct 26  A squirrel wisely squirrels away its food in various larders instead of putting all its nuts in one basket, so to speak. But first it licks the food or rub it on its face, marking it with it’s scent, making the food easier to locate later.

Oct 27  Cloacal aspiration: butt-breathing. Turtles do it. The area, well-vascularized, absorbs oxygen from cold water, enabling turtles to overwinter in the bottom of rivers, ponds and lakes.

Oct 28  Unless you’re twins, no two people in your family are exactly alike genetically. Apples are like that, too. In fact, all the seeds in every apple on a tree can make other trees that are all different from each other, and likely “sour enough to set a squirrel’s teeth on edge and make a jay scream,” in the immortal words of Thoreau. Which is why grafting of the tasty ones has been the reproductive choice of orchardists since the first millennium B.C.E.

Oct 29  Time to blow out and shut off the sprinkler system and drain and store hoses.

Oct 30  “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.  “—Anne Shirley, in Anne of Green Gables, by LM Montgomery

Oct 31  FULL MOON @ 08:51am. It’s a Blue Moon (the second full moon this month) as well as Halloween.  Average temps today: high 58º, low 39º. Sunrise: 7:57am. Sunset: 6:24pm.

Nov 1  Daylight Saving Time ends today at 2am. Sunrise:  6:58am. Sunset: 5:23pm. Bicyclists, be sure you have your lights about you!

Nov 2  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 3  Election Day! Vote like the future depends on it. Because it does.

Nov 4  “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.  “

— Louis L’Amour

Nov 5  Advice from the Snow Research Center in Michigan: As soon as it starts to snow (or even a little in advance if you’re certain it’s going to happen), spread a small amount of your deicer of choice on the surface you want to keep ice-free. This is called “anti-icing,” and it’s very effective. “You get a little bit of melt right at the surface when you pre-apply, and even a very small amount of chemical will then prevent that area from freezing.  Note: This doesn’t work applied on top of unshoveled snow.

Nov 6  If you have ivy growing up a building or fence (did you notice that last month the bees went nuts with the fragrant flowers?) it’s now time to prune that ivy. Virginia creeper, too. Go for branches that have detached (they will not reattach) and those encroaching on gutters and trees.

Nov 7  Average first day of snow. Blow off the snowblower. Shoveling is not what it used to be. The new, ergonomic shovels are smaller and lighter, and make lifting and tossing a lot easier and safer. Of course, do it right: Use your legs, not your back. And if you know you’re in not-so-good shape, enlist a job-sharer. Note: If you do have a snowblower and you’re going to fire it up, you might as well be generous. Your neighbors will be thrilled to look out and see their own sidewalks are clean. And they will think kind thoughts of you, as well.

Nov 8  In Scotland, November 8 is kept as Dunce Day. This Fool’s Day was named after Duns Scotus, a ninth century scholar who created a cone-shaped hat to energize the brain of his foolish students.

Nov 9  Stroll through the garden to see what’s still green (and edible). You should still see thyme, sage, mint, oregano and rosemary. Think tea, stews, herb butter. Or freeze or dry for later use.

Nov 10  Wonder why your mammalian pets lie in the sun and lick themselves? Their skin exudes an oil that, when exposed to sun, becomes vitamin D. When they groom themselves, they are also ingesting the vitamin. Clever!

Nov 11  Indian Summer is a period of abnormally warm weather following the killing freeze of autumn. A killing freeze occurs when the overnight temperature reaches 28 degrees or colder and may occur with or without frost.

Nov 12  Go on an art walk. Snap photos of images you find interesting or beautiful.

Nov 13  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 14  NEW MOON @ 10:08pm. What will you begin today?

Nov 15  For almost 70 years, Utah has been cloud seeding to increase snowpack aka our water supply. Ground-based seeders, placed along foothills and higher elevations, shoot silver iodide into winter clouds. Ice crystals form around the particles and fall to Earth as snow, glorious snow. The low-concentration silver iodide seeds are similar to what’s found in water purifiers and medicines. It’s far below the concentration found in iodized salt.

Greta Belanger deJong is editor and founder of CATALYST. Diane Olson wrote this column for many years.  Gretchen@CatalystMagazine.net/

This article was originally published on October 8, 2020.