- Education and Science
Weather Predictions From Folklore Folks
Ways of the Grandfathers
Folks all over the world have used common sense methods of predicting the weather for generations. The ways their grandfathers used to know what the next season was going to be like are still trusted and accurate today, if you know what to look for, that is.
One of the most endearing and thought provoking aspects of folklore are the superstitions of a particular group of peoples and their geographical location. All over the world folklore has given us a vivid image of the people, their beliefs and lifestyle in almost any setting. From home remedies to superstitions the local folk have lived for generations with the same beliefs their ancestors had lived by and made plans for the seasons according to the signs of nature.
The people of the Ozarks were mainly farmers and had to be experts on the weather and the many moods of nature that could either bless or destroy their crops. Long before today's technology, they had their own way of predicting the weather which usually proved to be pretty accurate. Their methods were not very complicated, in fact they were quite simple and logical. Anyone with enough common sense knew that you could expect rain if you saw rabbits playing in a dusty dirt road.
Some other tried and true predictions of rain were:
- If any animal turned it's back to the wind, you could expect rain.
- If you saw flint rock sweating, you could expect rain.
- If one of your hogs was running around with wood in it's mouth, you could expect rain.
- Rings around the moon? Expect rain.
- If that darn rooster insists on crowing just after the sun goes down... you can expect rain.
Rainy Weather Coming, be Prepared
Winter is begun here, now, I suppose. It blew part of the hair off the dog yesterday & got the rest this morning.
— Mark Twain, (In a letter to Chatto and Windus, October 21, 1892.)
Frost and Ol’ Man Winter
Frost is one of the dangers for crops, so you have to be prepared before hand. You knew when to expect frost if you paid attention to the katydids. If they start singing, you can expect frost in about six weeks, or if the fawns lose their spots, you will have frost in six weeks time. The first time you see a Walking Stick, you know there will be frost in six weeks. Are the horses in your county growing a lot of fur on their bellies? If so, you can expect a pretty cold winter with early frost. Bears also will grow extra fur if a severe winter is on the way. If you are alert to these signs you will have plenty of time to get your crops harvested and set up for the winter.
Do you have woolly bears (furry caterpillars) in your area? Get acquainted with them and watch their showy colors. If they are turning darker than usual you can expect a colder than usual winter. The darker that woolly bear is the more severe your winter will be. Pay attention to the stripes on the entire woolly bear, for it is like a scale or chart of the coming winter. If there are dark stripes at both the head and tail that is an indication that your winter will start out severe, have a period of mild weather, the end with severe weather.
To be prepared for the winter, you had better pay attention to the signs long before Ol' Man Winter reaches out his bony fingers to touch your land. Well, you just can't sit on your front porch and wonder what winter is gonna be like. If your mind is in the right place, you gotta start watching for signs in the middle of summer! Take August, for instance. If you have four fogs rolling onto your farm in August, why you're gonna have four snows come winter! If you had 40 sunny days between the first of July and the first of September, you can bet your corn pipe you're gonna have just as many freezes come winter. If your trees and bushes show off thick and green leaves, yup!... you're gonna have a hard winter!
Those stubborn cows who lay down and refuse to go out to pasture know a storm will be coming in soon - so, batten down the hatches.
Remember the old fable about the Grasshopper and the Ants? Well, that is true. The ants will become quite busy when they know a long cold winter is coming, so they stock up their food supply. The grasshopper would do well to follow their example. Squirrels will do the same thing by gathering as many nuts and other nutritious treats to last through a cold winter.
Now, cats may seem lazy and rather outside the mainstream of things - yet, actually they are quite intuitive and think outside the box. If your cat cozies up to the fire in your hearth, or to a hot wood burner stove, that is a sure sign that your winter will be a cold one.
Cat Cozies up to the Fireplace
Do you have some tried and true weather predictions?
Now then - come the time of late winter, you gotta start watching for signs of spring to come.
We all know that the groundhog can tell us about this. If that little critter does not see his shadow on February 14 (this is when the Ozark people celebrated Groundhog Day), then, hallelujah! Winter is over! If he does see his shadow, he scampers back down his hole and you just know there will be six more weeks of winter - so put on another pot of stew and keep those fires in the hearth going. In some valleys across the country, people will watch the mountain range nearest them. If all the snow is off the highest mountain they know it is time to start planting the new crops.
If you see that old Turkey Buzzard approaching then you've seen the last day of freezing weather, so you better start getting out your tools and equipment to make sure they are ready to work for you in making your land ready for the spring planting.
Now, see? You gotta be alert year round as to what the next season is gonna be like. You can't just wet your finger and stick it up in the air to see which way the wind is blowing right now. You gotta plan ahead and be prepared, folks!
Beautiful and Long Awaited Spring
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.— Albert Einstein
© 2015 Phyllis Doyle Burns