Archive for April 29, 2013


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White ice breakupI remember a year when the first faint traces of tree-leaf green were visible by the beginning of May. Not this year! The snow stake still shows a foot and a half of last winter’s snow. We’ve had just enough thawing that the white ice on my road is getting rutted 6” deep on warm days, and then freezing solid at night. I tried to shovel a path to the plant trays Saturday, and the snow was like concrete. At least the paved roads are dry.

There are signs of spring. The birch tree visible out the north window of my office now has bare ground at its base, thanks to the dropped seeds and wild rose bushes absorbing the sunlight. The snow is dripping off the roof. I’m generally driving with shoes on, rather than boots (thought the boots are still in the car.) And the sun is definitely back

birch treeSunrise this morning was at 5:23 and the sun will set 16 hours and 52 minutes later at 10:15 this evening. It’s now almost 40° above the horizon at noon. But we no longer have nautical night (the sun never goes more that 12° below the horizon) and civil twilight lasts until half an hour before midnight. Star gazing? It barely gets dark enough for that.

I don’t know if we’ll set a record low temperature for the month (probably not, though I’ll be checking) but I can say that temperatures have not been at or above normal since the first three days of May. Where’s spring?

P.s. added 3:50 pm: Probably the third coldest April, we set a new record low of 2 below last night, and it was snowing shortly after noon today.

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Homecoming coverLetter YThe Central calendar is based on the solstices and equinoxes, with the northward equinox marking the start of the year, a planetary holiday called Yearday. The Central year is actually slightly more than 364 Central days, so Yearday is always defined by the northward equinox at the longitude of Confederation headquarters, and if necessary an intercalary day is inserted on the day after Yearday. This occurs roughly every 9 years.

The year is divided into twelve months of 30 days each, with holidays (which are considered not to belong to any month) between them. Yearday is the most important of these, and the only one firmly tied to the astronomical calendar. Northday is approximately on the northern solstice and Southday near the southern solstice; Feastday is near the southward equinox.

The school calendar starts with the first day of the fifth month, a month after Northday. There are two month-long vacations, starting with Northday and Southday.

Both Feastday and Yearday are times for parties and celebrations, but most students do not have enough time off school to travel home at these times. Only those whose parents are able to teleport them home normally get anything but the celebrations planned at school.

I’m doing my A to Z blogs from my books, both characters and background information. For characters I’ll introduce them quickly, say what point of time they’re talking from since their situations change drastically through the books, and let them talk. The format of background information will vary according to what I’m talking about. Bold type indicates that more information has been or will be available in another A to Z post. All of these blogs will be scheduled to go live just after midnight Alaska time.

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