If you’ve been reading the Blind Pig for a while you know I LOVE SNOW! Last fall when I saw the inside of the Persimmon seed was showing a spoon/shovel shape and we had snow on Halloween-I just knew I was in for a winter of snow. But that hasn’t happened.
Actually the snow we got on Halloween and the snow that fell a few days ago are the only occurrences of the white stuff we’ve had-with neither being enough to cover the ground. I’m sure the folks suffering from the storms up north wish they could say that.
I’m beginning to think the persimmon seed lied! But that doesn’t mean I discount all weather folklore nor that I no longer enjoy reading the old sayings. Today I’m going to share some Weather Wisdom by way of Jim Casada.
Weather Wisdom written by Jim Casada
If you dig deep enough you’ll find all sorts of printed material about weather lore, and at least some of it focuses squarely on our part of the world. A quarter of a century ago a fellow from over Hendersonville way, Kermit Edney, wrote a whole book, “The Kermit Edney Weather Book.” It’s chock full of traditional mountain thoughts, sayings, and doings related to weather. Likewise, in the original Foxfire book, along with several of the numbered volumes, you’ll find considerable material on weather.
Here are some winter tidbits:
- Clouding up on a frosty morning is a sign of coming bad weather.
- Snow staying on the ground; it’s waiting for more to come around.
- Chimney smoke hanging low; a likely sign of coming snow.
- Rabbits afoot in the middle of the day; a heavy snow is on the way.
- Red sky at night; sailor’s (or mountaineer’s) delight; red sky in the morning; sailor (or mountaineer) take warning.
- For every lingering fog in August expect a snow in winter.
- The hotter the summer, the colder the winter.
- Spitting sparks and a fussy fire; be ready for weather dire.
No doubt because remembering the information was made easier by rhyme, a great many of the old “sayings” are rhythmic couplets. Here’s a fairly extensive sampling from things I’ve heard or read over the years.
- When the wind’s in the south, It has snow in its mouth.
- When the ground and grass is dry at morning light, Expect snow before the night.
- When heavy frost is on the grass, Snow seldom comes to pass.
- The higher the clouds, the finer the weather; No clouds at all, that’s even better.
- Mackerel scales and mares’ tails, Make wise sailors set short sails. (Although far from the sea, this is sound mountain weather wisdom, because “mackerel scale” clouds are what are known as snow clouds in the high country).
- Clear, cold moon; Frost coming soon.
- When smoke goes west, good weather is past; When smoke goes east, bad weather is next.
- Shucks on corn extra thick; Look for cold winter coming quick.
- When an old man’s joints ache; cold, rainy weather is at stake.
- Birds active and flying low; Beware of a coming snow.
- When clouds hang heavy on the hills; Expect coming rain and chills.
- A ring circling round the moon; Means rain or snow coming soon.
Or another rhyming weather proverb with a similar message:
- When the moon carries a halo; It’s a sign of coming snow.
- Rabbits moving on a winter day; A heavy snow is on the way.
- When dimmer stars disappear; Rain or snow is quite near.
- When clouds move against the wind; Rain or snow is around the bend.
- When it is hard to kindle a fire; That’s a sure sign of weather dire.
- If Candlemas be fair and clear; There’ll be two winters in the year.
This may need a bit of explaining, since in today’s world Candlemas is seldom mentioned. It is the day more commonly known as Groundhog Day. In other words, this weather proverb is faithful to the idea that if the groundhog sees his shadow there are six more weeks of winter weather yet to come.
- If there’s no Indian Summer in October or November; Look for it to come in winter or December.
- Winter thunder bodes summer hunger.
- He who doffs his coat on a winter day; Will gladly don it in the month of May.
- Trees holding their leaves extra long; Look for winter to be extra strong.
- Onion skins very thin, Mild winter coming in; Onion skins thick and tough; Coming winter cold and rough.
- If January has no snow; In March expect flakes to blow.
- If winter has lots of snow; Expect a fruitful crop to grow.
Many locals who are attuned to enduring folk wisdom will recognize that this little couplet carries in it the concept of snow as “poor man’s fertilizer.” There’s considerable truth in that statement, for snow soaks gradually into the ground in sharp contrast to the runoff from heavy rain. Moreover, snow picks up elements in the air (Al Gore’s supposedly smother carbon particles and the like) and deposits them on earth to nourish the soil. Another old saying along similar lines is that “April snow is as good as cow manure.”
- When hornets build their nests extra high; Look for snow nearing your thigh.
- If there’s a thunderstorm in late September; Expect a snow in late November.
- If October has heavy frosts and winds blow wild; Expect January to be quite mild.
In closing, given my life-long love for fishing and the undeniable fact that fish activity is affected by the weather, maybe that’s a suitable way to close. Both Grandpa Joe and Daddy always asserted that weather dramatically affected fishing, and the latter swore by the Solunar Tables prepared by John Alden Knight. Deep down I have to agree, but I’ve always held the optimistic view that anytime you can go fishing is a good time. Take whatever perspective you wish, but Izaak Walton, the author and naturalist who wrote the enduring classic, “The Compleat Angler,” summed it up quite nicely.
If the wind’s in the north, The skillful fisherman goes not forth;
If the wind’s in the east; It’s good for neither man nor beast;
If the wind’s in the south; It blows the fly in the fish’s mouth;
When the wind is in the west; Then fishing’s the very best.
I hope you enjoyed Jim’s weather wisdom as much as I did-now if I could only get some snow!