Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mercredi: Weather-Wise

Watching, predicting and even changing the weather has been the domain of local wise people and old wives for centuries.  Keeping track of what was going on with weather signs as they related to individual seasons and months was often the purview of the same village expert who people went to see for love potions, cures for illness and help in childbearing.  Nine times out of ten, that person was a woman.

I’ve been researching the old weather chestnuts from around the world for a while now.  My interest began some time ago with sailing rhymes like “Red sky at night, sailor delight” and has only grown from there.  With this in mind, I’d like to add an old wives’ tale or two about each month’s weather here at HQ.  For me, this is simply an avenue to share what I’m learning.  If nothing else, it will be amusing.

In ancient Europe it was August, not September, which kicked off the harvest.  These days, however, our calendars say fall begins at the Equinox and not at the old Lammas festival celebrated on August 1.  Much of the older weather wisdom, then, tends to focus on harvesting in August and things like preserving and butchering in September and October.  For instance, only when the first frost is seen should any pig be butchered.

Early September signs often focus on how wet or dry the rest of the harvest season will be.  One of my favorites advises paying close attention to the leaves on local deciduous trees.   Stillness among the changing leaves portends only light rains and potential late heat.  Leaves rustling often throughout the day – especially if they fall in large batches and land with their undersides up – is a sure sign that persistent rain will be bothersome and continue until the first snows.

Based on this, and despite the brilliant sunshine streaming into my window, it looks like we’re in for some soggy weather where I live.   

Header: Falling Autumn Leaves by Vincent Van Gogh c 1888


Timmy! said...

It would seem that Alaska is much like ancient Europe, Pauline...

Pauline said...

After living here over a decade, I have to agree.