Discerning Weather Signs – From: It’s Not My Mountain Anymore

Barbara taylor woodall discusses weather signs

The excerpt I’m going to share from It’s Not My Mountain Anymore written by Barbara Taylor Woodall today is one of the many parts of the book which made me laugh-and longingly wish I had known her mother.

One cold January afternoon Mama began to discern weather signs. The chimney smoke settled close to the ground and the fire was making “trompin” sounds like boots swishing deep snow. Raising a cup of water to her mouth, she said “I can taste snow in th’ spring water. The stock was laying down this morning around the barn. Yes sir, a doozy of a snowstorm is a’comin. If we can’t make it to the outhouse, we’ll just have to pee in the gun barrel and shoot it out the window.”

In the book Barbara goes on with the rest of the story-they did indeed get a big snow. I love that her Mother said she could taste snow in the spring water. Seems like somewhere back in the corner of my mind I recall someone saying the same thing-but maybe not. The Deer Hunter says he can smell snow coming and his nose has been right as long as I’ve known him.


p.s. If you can’t wait to read the book yourself-click on any of the links above (title of book in orange or Barbara’s name in orange) to jump over and buy your own copy!


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  • Reply
    September 9, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Judith-thank you for the comment! Sounds like your Grandmother was one smart lady : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Judith S. Rogers
    September 8, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    My grandmother said in upstate NY they kept a toilet seat by the wood stove, and anyone needing to “go” took the warm seat with them to the outhouse.

  • Reply
    Lorraine Adams
    November 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Most snakes smell like split cucumbers but down here in Louisiana a water moccasin smells a little skunky.I can smell rain and watch the sky and the birds for weather signs.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Interesting to hear from so many who smell snow and rain. Like Gorges I “sometimes” smell rain but also have sinus and allergy problems.
    Thanks for the music. Please keep sharing.

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    November 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    My daddy has said this before.. And the fire is tromping snow.. Never heard of smelling snakes.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Add me to the list of buying the book. I can smell snow, actually it’s more like a feeling that the clouds are holding the snow. Rain coming smells earthy to me. And approaching thunderstorms smell like ozone. Coming snow always brings quiet, like the world is hunkering down, but also brings a sense of anticipation to the air.
    I can’t imagine trying to pee down a gun barrel. I’d probably pee all over myself and the floor. But I do love the image.
    I’d always heard that snakes smell like cucumbers and gave myself many a scare as I walked through the woods near my house. Never saw any of the snakes, though.
    Another sign of snow for me was how the horses’ winter coats would fluff up more to trap air.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    November 5, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Mitchell can smell snakes, I can smell snow, & our chimney does not lie!

  • Reply
    Stephen Ammons
    November 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Tipper, I am very happy to hear that deer hunter can smell snow coming because I have the same gift. People have always laughed at me when I mentioned it but would look at me funny when it did. I would just smile and not say a word.
    I am curious about deer hunter being able to smell snakes as one of the other posts suggested.
    I think I can but not sure.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    November 5, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    tipper i hope all are warm and safe 🙂 i just ordered the book… for my kindle.. i cant wait to read it..
    sounds like deerhunter has a special nose .. never smelled snow coming.. but i do smell when rain is in the air… and love that smell especially in the early spring.. when so anxious for the new beginnings..
    sending big hugs to you all

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    November 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    I remember being able to smell snow coming, also. It has been a long time and the nose probably wouldn’t recognize the smell anymore, but maybe I will be able to retrain after we get back to the mountains.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Tipper–I can sense, partly smell and partly an innate “feel” that is difficult to describe, a coming snow. I can also identify, all too painfully, with Bill Burnett’s comment about approaching fronts. I once wondered about Grandpa Joe talking about having “the miseries” because of weather changes, and all he would say is “you’ll learn.” Alas, he was all too accurate.
    There are lots of harbingers of coming snows, and several folks have mentioned some of them. One of the most interesting observations I’ve ever experienced when a heavy snow was approaching came three or four times when rabbit hunting.
    Suddenly, in the middle of the day, our beagles would hit a hot trail without anyone having jumped a rabbit. They were tracking rabbits that had left their beds (or hides) during the day, something they don’t normally do in the winter. Daddy would say, it will be pouring snow before dark, and every time that’s exactly what happened.
    I loved the comment about peeing down a rifle barrel and shooting it out the window. That’s one I hadn’t heard before, and it’s a dandy.
    I ordered the book by mail today and told her you were a first-rate public relations agent.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Howland, here’s to Sears and Robuck and Aldens.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Howland – We had a kerosene lantern to carry to the outhouse. You could warm your hands over it which made it easier to do what you had to do. We had to be careful lest we set the catalog on fire. I remember lighting pages and throwing them down the hole.
    We never had the modern seat in our toilet.
    It think our toilet was built wrong. It had an updraft sometimes that chilled your posterior parts even when the weather was temperate and surrounded you with a fragrance quite unlike the smell of approaching snowfall.
    Using the toilet in the winter without sitting all the way down builds up the muscles in your legs and increases your sense of balance. The same is true when you have to “hit the woods.” Just another perk of country livin.

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    November 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I don’t doubt the Deer Hunter in smelling snow. I think I can smell snow about 24hrs in advance, but in my area I don’t get much practice. What I’m really curious about is the Deer Hunter’s ability to smell snakes. Can he?

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I have tried to order the book online and can’t get anywhere. All I can find is something to print off and order autographed copies by mail. I know I’m not too bright but I’ve bought your book online as well as others without a hitch. I really would like to read it too.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I don’t always smell the snow coming, but most of the time I do. I’m going to have to read that book. That shotgun excerpt is just too funny!

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    November 5, 2012 at 11:23 am

    That passage sold me…or rather sold the book. I just ordered a copy. I can tell when it’s going to snow,too…I just watch the Weather Channel.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 10:58 am

    We have city water so all I can tell is when it has extra chlorine. My weather forecast is when my old bones snap and pop and hurt more than usual. And I watch the bird feeders. They empty really fast when the weather is getting bad. When the super storm was about they were flying into the windows and the side of the house even with the blinds and curtains closed. Alex said it was a feeding frenzy. I don’t know but a lot of hungry birds when the weather gets bad.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I’m a product of the Taurus sign
    also and learned the smell of snow
    in the air when I was about 6. We
    had an outhouse too and sometimes
    in describing how deep the snow was we’d say “you have to boot
    down the stovepipe and blow it out
    the chimney.” Seems we’re in a bit
    of a different pattern now, and for several years the big snows
    haven’t been there…Ken

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 10:29 am

    When I was a wee tad in the wilds of Western NY, just a little bit south of Lake Ontario, we were fortunate to be wealthy enough to have a real plumbing-type seat in the outhouse. We’d take Daddy’s electric railroad lantern when we had to go there at night and about the third week in January the seat would be covered with frost and we knew that if we had to sit down our butts would stick and we’d have to wait for daylight (or spring) for the seat to get warm and let us go so we’d line the seat with a few pages from the catalog in the basket on the floor. I expect that a few folks would think that this was just another tall tale, but I can prove it! I can show you the very lantern we carried to the outhouse.

  • Reply
    Ron Perry, Sr.
    November 5, 2012 at 10:19 am

    On the occasions that we had no indoor plumbing we had an enamel pot with a lid that was for those late night nature calls. The next morning a trip to the outhouse to empty the pot and try not to slosh it out. We seldom had snow in the mid southern part of NC.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    November 5, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I watch for low hanging clouds, sort of like long bumpy lumps..
    The Juncos (Snowbirds) feeding in a franic around the feeders.
    Can’t say that we’ve tasted snow in our well water, other than on a cold winter day the water is just that much colder..
    I would just hope that when or if someone is shooting pee to their outhouse, that my sniffer is upwind when I’m out there sniffin’ for snow!
    Thanks Tipper, Great post and it doesn’t look like snow today. It’s sunny. I have reread this book and still enjoy it as much as the first time. It is on my kindle and there if I need a good read and laugh anywhere I go.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 10:00 am

    I once could smell snow coming, but pollution seems to have dulled that sense. I know when bad weather is coming cause I can feel the earth waiting on it. Don’t ask me how that works for I do not know. It just does. Loved the gun barrel saying. Today my elbows and knees are saying something is up. Maybe I need to check what the weather wizards have to say.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    November 5, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Very funny. But, I bet her mom didn’t even mean it to be funny. And,yes I think you can smell rain in the air.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I’m still reading Shank and Fletcher books I had never heard of until I read about them on here. This will surely be one more to add to my collection.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 5, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I am still laughing at the peeing down the gun barrel remark her mother said. I think I will have to read her book.

  • Reply
    Joy Newer
    November 5, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Deer Hunter And I share the same Birth Sign, 22 of April is my Birth Day, I will be 80 in April of 2013 if the good Lord spares me, Have always smelled rain a coming but must confess have missed some snow days. Must have this book too as it seems a fitting to me, Bless you all, I just love your family and this site, look forward to it every day. Grandmother Joy.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    November 5, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Reposting the link, this is opne of those ‘have to share’ posts.
    I’ve never heard, “I can taste snow in th’ spring water.” before that I know of, but like you said, it sounds familiar.
    That is a great quote!
    I feel a great need to own this book!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 5, 2012 at 8:00 am

    I too can smell a good snow coming and with my arthritis and a myriad of broken bones can tell when a low pressure front passes Chattanoga, Tn. My most accurate forecasting tool is my weather rock.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Most of those sayings have some truth and science to them, even though our ancesters didn’t call it science. I think it was because they paid attention. They weren’t self absorbed, and didn’t have a lot of electronics acting like remote controls to their lives.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    November 5, 2012 at 7:41 am

    A rather interesting comment. I have heard people say they can smell the rain coming. I have never figured it out – that is, what does rain smell like or snow for that matter. I don’t think my sniffer has that ability. Of course, I can’t imagine anyone being able to pee into a gun barrel – run for the outhouse before the storm gets into place.
    More Appalachain learnin’ for me today!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 5, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I love it…pee down the gun barrel and shoot it out the window. That is so funny and such an earthy comment.
    Folks that didn’t have tv were much more attuned to the things of the earth. The Deer Hunter was born in the sign of Taurus, a strong earth sign. He has always been strongly connected with the earth and he has always known when it was going to snow.
    If I want to know if it’s going to snow I call the Deer Hunter instead of checking the weather channel.LOL

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Living in the Deep South I did not have a lot of experience with snow weather growing up. More times than not, we had ‘sweat beads’ on the brick porch in December from all of the tropical Gulf air. So I love my mountain snows now and I must be developing a snow nose too, because I guessed it right this past year! 🙂 This book is going to be a fun read!

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    November 5, 2012 at 6:46 am

    We had a out house when I was young, we didn’t get in door plumbing until I was around 9. Her idea of the shot gun was a good idea, wished we’d thought of that… those things were the coldest place outside you could be..if you know what I mean..

  • Reply
    November 5, 2012 at 5:43 am

    That’s got to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. Would liked to have met her mother and listen to her talk.

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    November 5, 2012 at 4:35 am

    I can’t smell snow coming, but I can sometimes smell rain coming. “Sometimes” because I have a lot of sinus and allergy problems.

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