Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac: January 2007

By Diane Olson

Day by day in the home, garden and sky.
almanacJanuary 1

The Sun rises at 7:51 a.m. today and sets at 5:10 p.m. The average maximum temperature this month is 36°; the average minimum temperature 9°, and it typically snows 12.7 inches.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

— from “The Journey,”
by Mary Oliver

January 2 The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts a colder (by 3°) than usual January, with slightly below-average precipitation.

January 3 FULL COLD MOON. Earth reaches perihelion, its closest point to the Sun today, a mere 91,400,005 miles away. (It’s the angle, not the nearness of the Sun that brings warmth.)

January 4 Tonight is the Quadrantid meteor shower. Look to the northwest after midnight; best viewing is just before dawn.

January 5 Keep watering amaryllis after the flowers fade and let them continue to soak up light. Stop watering poinsettias once the leaves drop, and store them in a cool place.

January 6 On the Chinese calendar, the next 15 days are the chieh of The Little Cold. On the Hindi calendar, which names months according to the position of the full Moon in relation to groups of stars called naksatras, January is Magh.

January 7 To counteract icky inversion air, drink licorice tea, which soothes and softens irritated and inflamed membranes. Licorice also supports the adrenals, and is helpful in the treatment of duodenal and stomach ulcers..

January 8 It’s been found that jumping spiders, which have excellent vision and often dwell inside homes, watch television, and react to on-screen images of other spiders and flies. It’s wise to cultivate a family of jumping spiders in your home, as they are the only local predator of the deadly hobo spider. Plus, you’ll always have someone to watch TV with.

January 9 Look for bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, kestrels and wild turkeys wintering in the low scrub lands of Utah and Tooele counties.

January 10 The “Winter Six” rule the night sky this month: Orion, Taurus, Gemini, Audga, Canis Major and Canis Minor.

January 11 LAST QUARTER MOON. Throughout the month, Mars and Jupiter, loitering in the constellation Ophiuchus, are visible to the east in the predawn sky, and Venus continues her reign as an evening star.

January 12 In an ancient form of divination called auspicy, the flight of birds was an important source of information. The sighting of a crow symbolized change, and magpies were believed to be harbingers of good news, as evidenced by this old children’s rhyme (which was nicely co-opted by the band Counting Crows:

One for sorrow,
Two for mirth
Three for a letter,
Four for birth,
Five for silver,
Six for gold
And seven for a secret never to be told.

January 13 Beavers in the Jordan and Provo rivers are mating in the icy water. Many fish, including bass, bullheads and carp, are dormant this time of year; some even partly bury themselves in muddy lake and river bottoms.

January 14 Pines trees are shedding their cones. Moose and deer are shedding their antlers.

January 15 Orion, the Great Hunter, is high in the southern sky around 9 p.m. Orion is home to the Great Nebula (visible with binoculars), and first-magnitude stars Rigel and Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse has a diameter of 215 million miles; greater than Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

January 16 Leach excess minerals out of house plants by placing them in a tub or sink and running water through the pot.

January 17 If the temperature is above 40 °F, apply antidesiccants to evergreens, young trees and fruit trees to prevent sun damage and wind burn.

January 18 NEW MOON. Fishing should be good now through February 1. Look for Mercury rising in the cold twilight, and for Saturn in Leo, visible by late evening.

January 19 Violets are blooming in south-facing niches. Sweet violet has a long history of use as a cough remedy, especially in the treatment of bronchitis.

January 20 Today begins the chieh of The Severe Cold. Tonight, Venus and the tender crescent Moon conjunct beautifully half an hour after sunset.

January 21 Set frost-heaved plants back in place and mulch heavily.

January 22 If it’s not too cold, turn the compost pile.

January 23 Astrologically, today is a good day to prune plants to encourage growth.

January 24 In 1965, a six-day storm dumped 105 inches of snow at Alta, the greatest amount of precipitation ever recorded in Utah from a single storm.

January 25 FIRST QUARTER MOON. Garlic is greening and starting to grow.

January 26 Noctilucent clouds are rare, lovely, blue-white tendrils, most often seen in the western sky 30 minutes to an hour after sunset. They form in the mesosphere, about 50 miles up, where it’s very cold and dry, and are composed of tiny ice crystals.

January 27 $1,500 will buy you the privilege of naming one of 600 new ant species discovered in Madagascar by Dr. Brian Fisher, an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences. (www.antweb.org).

January 28 Now’s a good time to prune grape vines.

January 29 Black-capped chickadees, flickers, sparrows, magpies and robins are busy gathering food. Keep feeders full of seeds, and set out some suet.

January 30 Pussy willow buds are swelling.

January 31 The Sun rises at 7:39 a.m. today, and sets at 5:45 p.m. Keep your eyes peeled for the first blooming snowdrops.

Diane Olson is a dirt worshipper, project manager and freelance writer.

This article was originally published on December 31, 2006.