In my humble opinion

Mercury rising

Posted 5/25/22

I don’t know much about astrology, astronomy, Roman mythology, planetary alignments or chemical elements, but Mercury, in one form or another, seems to be ruling the day. During my years in …

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In my humble opinion

Mercury rising


I don’t know much about astrology, astronomy, Roman mythology, planetary alignments or chemical elements, but Mercury, in one form or another, seems to be ruling the day. During my years in “La La Land” (aka Los Angeles, CA) I heard the term “Mercury in retrograde” on more than one occasion and asked what that could possibly mean. At the time, I was told in no uncertain terms that the planet Mercury ruled many things right here on Earth and that when in retrograde, it screwed up plans, screwed with electronics and just plain screwed with one’s head.

I’ve found that I only “believe” in weird things like ghosts, aliens and the Loch Ness monster when it’s convenient, but Mercury in retrograde? Something must have stuck, because when I found myself having difficulty communicating with others—just before the truck broke down and right after my cell phone began turning itself off and on for no earthly reason—I asked Alexa (uh-huh) if Mercury was in retrograde. “Yes,” she replied, in that nasal, annoying, computer-generated voice of hers. “Mercury is in retrograde from May 10 until June 2.”

“Well that explains a lot,” I said to the dog, who was having a hard time getting her favorite stuffed toy to squeak. Naturally, I immediately went online to see what the almighty Google had to say, in order to shut Alexa up. She was upstairs still droning on about the subject.

“What is Mercury retrograde”? I typed into the little box on the right-hand side of my computer screen, and hundreds of matches popped up. When I saw that the Old Farmer’s Almanac (dot com) had an answer, I looked at that, because, well, you know. It’s the “Old Farmer’s Almanac,” for cryin’ out loud.

“Three times a year, the planet Mercury appears to travel backward across the sky,” the almanac informed me. “We refer to these periods as times when Mercury is in apparent retrograde motion or simply Mercury retrograde. To those who practice astrology, these times in particular were traditionally associated with confusion, delay and frustration. Think undelivered love letters, [remember, he’s old!] email blunders and frazzled travel plans! This is an excellent time to reflect on the past, however, and it’s said that intuition is high during these periods. Coincidences can be extraordinary.” Hmmm.

To be clear, the old farmer is quick to point out that the planet is not actually going backward at all, but that “sometimes it can appear (from our perspective) that a planet has abruptly switched directions and has started to move in reverse across the sky. This is why we call the phenomenon apparent retrograde motion, as it only looks like the planet is moving backward.”

On top of that, the mercury was rising in my old-timey thermometer outside, and the weather app on my on-again-off-again working phone promised a scorcher as I made plans to check out the annual Livingston Manor Flower Day, which I thought might be pleasant to see with the Wonder Dog safely ensconced in her stroller (don’t judge!) so that her little tootsies didn’t get too darn hot. I was under the impression that the event was related to Sullivan Renaissance, and in a way it is, but thankfully, I opened my big mouth and Manor Renaissance spokesperson Kathy Fries stepped up to explain.

“Livingston Manor Renaissance is its own separate entity,” she clarified. “For the past several years we have applied for, and [happily] received, a beautification grant for $2,500, which covers less than half of our expenses. The chamber’s Flower Day is responsible for a significant part of our non-Sullivan Renaissance funding. We are blessed to have the support of the business community, residents and visitors. And that,” she said in conclusion, “doesn’t take into account the volunteers—from teenagers to octogenarians, long-time residents, new neighbors and second-homers—all working together to ‘keep the Manor blooming’.” Well said, Kathy, well said.

As the silvery, beautiful, now-illegal mercury continued to rise, I stopped to see some folks dipping a toe in the Willowemoc Creek and then beat a hasty retreat to my non-air-conditioned home, oddly grateful that I didn’t have yet another contraption just waiting to break down. “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings,” Barbara Fox would undoubtedly say, so I plan to tread lightly until the mercury stops rising, the planet stops appearing to dance backward and my truck comes home from the shop. Meanwhile, flower child or not, I’d tread lightly if I were you, and not tempt the gods. For all I know (and that’s not much) there might be some truth to it, and I’m in no mood to take chances.

For more photos of the 2022 Livingston Manor Flower Day, like us on Facebook and check out the photo galleries at

Fun Fact: “Mercury Rising” is a 1998 American action thriller film starring Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin.

And this: New York State bans the sale of most mercury-containing products and requires labeling and proper disposal or recycling of mercury-added consumer products. State law also prohibits primary and secondary schools from purchasing or using mercury.

Take note! Mercury will be in (apparent) retrograde motion during the following ranges of dates:  May 10 to June 2, September 9 to October 1 and December 28 to January 18 (2023). Forewarned is forearmed.

And here's more on Mercury in retrograde:

astrology, Mercury in retrograde, Old Farmer's Almanac, Livingston Manor Renaissance, planetary alignment, Dharma the Wonder Dog, Livingston Manor, NY, Barbara Fox, Willowemoc Creek


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