In the darkness before dawn this December 7, the temperature is a balmy 51°. Measuring 95 percent, humidity is as wet as it can get without water actually falling from the clouds.
The morning is not quiet: a drip, drop from tree branches into drenched leaf piles falling from eaves onto tarp-covered cords of firewood, inside downspouts, from power lines, onto parked car hoods.
The stars and near-full moon are hidden behind a thick layer of clouds.
After the sunrise at 7:11 a.m., the day carries on in this soaked and saturated way, cloudy and punctuated by intermittent showers. The temperature will nudge up a few degrees to 54° after noon, and start a slow decline thereafter, sinking back down into the high forties overnight. Sunset is at 4:26 p.m. .
The day will be nine hours and 15 minutes long.
The bottom of the low tide, when all that ocean water rushes back out to sea, is just 20 minutes away at 6:45 a.m. The moon will set just a little after.
Tides are the fault of the push and pull of the sun and the moon. When the moon rises again at 3:58 p.m., it will be 100 percent full, meaning the earth will be caught between the sun — all three nearly in alignment. The sun pulls one way, the moon the other. Long period waves, also known as infragravity waves, are born. We on the shore see it as an endless line of crashing waves.
Or from the riverbank, witness the spring tide, the maximum pull of the moon intersecting with the long period wave. The result is the flooding river, as high as it will get, its surface rushing past to the north, ominously close to overtopping the land and carrying away with it lawn furniture and bridges, farming implements and playground equipment, wooden structures, swing sets and livestock. The appetite of the river is bottomless.
High tide is at 12:43 p.m.
For the mountain forecast, now we go to Bjorn Jorgensen out at Belleayre Mountain.
Bjorn, what can you tell us?
Bjorn: Good morning, Johannes. Everything is prepared. But the temperature on the summit at 8° Celsius is so warm I’ve taken my shirt off.
Johannes: You’re on the summit then somewhat as you came into this world, only more bearded.
Bjorn: And with pants. That’s right.
Johannes: Can you describe the summit of the mountain for us, Bjorn?
Bjorn: Yes, of course. The summit is a cold knife-edged jumble of shattered rock, the result of incredible geophysical upheavals over time. The moon used to be much closer to the earth as well. Even now it pulls up on the crust of the earth. Incredibly, we can’t feel the pull.
Johannes: Well, that is incredible.
Bjorn: When the moon was closer, of course, the tides were larger and more violent. Three hundred meters high. Just think of it.
Bjorn: Yes. Life is a wonder. Well, all is prepared for the last full moon of the year. My carved skis are hanging from the tree branches as a sign to ward off malevolent interlopers. All the wood for the fire is stacked within easy reach. And my weaponry if necessary. Right, so I should also tell you about the summit.
Johannes: Yes, Bjorn?
Bjorn: What I told you was not quite accurate. It’s mostly a flat, unremarkable summit. But no one likes to hear that.
Johannes: Well, if you care enough about someone, Bjorn, sometimes you lie. Here’s to wishing you colder weather, with stiff, crunching grass underfoot and a distant winter, lemon-yellow sun.
The wind, it still comes lightly out of the south, has been for days, propping up this unseasonably warm weather in December.
Some say that it takes longer to fall asleep under a full moon, and that the sleep will be shallower and more broken. Some say.