Use nature to forecast the weather

I can remember sitting at the supper table one evening at Grandma Spires’ house in Bingham when her older brother, Wilber Meyer, made the comment that his ducks were moving about more than usual – a sure sign of rain. And rain it did, the next day.
A few days later, while finishing the last of my outdoor chores, I chanced to look up and the moon had a pretty large ring around it – another sign of rain. In fact, the size of the circle can tell you when the rain will arrive.
As a child in the pre-Nexrad days, we used the signs surrounding us much more than now. We looked up more, it seems. The clouds have a lot to tell us. And, we listened to the wind.
We are observed animals and insects. How fuzzy was the wooly caterpillar?The more fuzz, the saying goes, the colder the winter.
Are the squirrel nests lower in the trees?  A sign of a bad winter, for sure.
 I remember the weather prediction song from my childhood, “Red sky in morning, sailor take warning; red sky at night, sailor’s delight.” It seems to hold true.
Each year, I consult a persimmon seed, where winter’s forecast waits inside. A spoon, fork or knife shape in the center of the seed foretells whether there will be more than the usual amount of snow (a spoon), more ice storms than usual (fork) or colder temperatures than usual that will slice through you like a knife.
I pay little attention to black cats, the number 13, broken mirrors and ladders. However, to keep myself within the realm of protection, I knock on a lot of wood.
Wishes come with falling stars and I have wished on more than a few of those in my lifetime.
Pots of gold at the end of the rainbow were another childhood dream. Nearly 40 years ago on Ill. Route 185 east of Litchfield, I actually saw the end of a rainbow. Running toward it the childish hope that a pot of gold might actually be there popped up in my mind. When I reached the end of the rainbow there was no gold … unless someone else beat me to it.
Most family superstitions vary a little, depending upon the part of the country your people came from. The hooting of an owl or a bird in the house were both omens of impending death.
Does your nose itch? Expect company. Ears burn? You are being talked about.
It still surprises me that not everyone knows to hold onto a button when passing a cemetery … or you will be the next one in.
My father’s elbow was used as a barometer by some of his fellow workers at Crane Packing who were also farmers on the side. Grandma Spires’ healed broken hip did the same – signaled changes in the weather.
We don’t all have an Uncle Wilber whose ducks signal impending rain or a grandma whose arthritic hip gives advanced weather warnings. But we do have access to the Farmers Almanac which had been published for more than 170 years.
Using information from the Almanac, one can wean their baby, plant their crops or prune a grapevine among other important activities.
As a young mother, there was no reason for me to refer to the Almanac, because Aunt Mollie, Wilber’s wife, knew the signs, too.
It was to Aunt Mollie I turned when it was time to potty train or wean my child. She advised that with the moon sign in the hip, it was time to wean your baby, potty train the child, take away the binky, etc.
If you have ducks, watch ’em. If they begin to move around a little more than usual or your cow coughs, check the nightly moon. Is there a ring around it? Rain is moving in, so have your umbrella handy.

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