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Weather wisdom abounds in rural life

These days, weather forecasting is the realm of meteorologists and climatologists.  However, many rural residents are familiar with less-than scientific ways of predicting the weather.  Did you know that a crow perched in a dead tree is a sign that rain is on the way?  Have you heard that a large amount of orange on a fuzzy black and orange caterpillar means a long winter is on its way?  These are the tales told by generations of farmers, grandparents, and parents.  We asked readers to share their bits of weather wisdom and folklore.

According to Theresa Byrne and Sylvie Bouchard, if the leaves on a tree flip upside down in the wind, it means rain is on the way.  Bouchard also said that her grandfather told her that it will rain later in the day if cattle are laying down.  Carol Truesdell-MacDonald shared the same observation but added “it doesn’t always happen.”

Crop and weather conditions are often connected to calendar dates in some predictions.

“Corn must be knee-high by the first of July,” stated Truesdell-MacDonald.

“Le trois fait le mois,” was a bit of weather wisdom shared by Michelle Landriault.  The saying is French for “The third makes the month,” which means that whatever the weather is on the third of the month is an indicator of how the weather will be during the rest of that month.

Lois Linttell’s contribution was not connected with the date, but with the time of day.  “Rain before seven, fine by eleven.”

Linttell also shared a well-known weather prediction saying, that gets used in places far from where sailors are usually found.  “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.  Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”

Winter weather is a big part of life in our region, and even though it is summer, winter-related weather folklore comprised a few of the submissions.

Christine Watchorn explained that the height of wasp nests is an indicator of how deep the snow will be during the next winter.

The thickness of an onion peel is an indicator of how cold the winter will be, according to Julie C. Durocher.  The thicker the peel, the colder the winter.

Susan McAlpine shared a couple of items she heard years ago about freezing rain from an old farmer in Dalesville, near Brownsburg.  He claimed that if there is a halo around the moon at night, there will be freezing rain within a day.  According to McAlpine, the farmer also said that if water is running on top of the ice on the Dalesville River, there will be freezing rain within a day.  “Both have proven to be true on many occasions,” said McAlpine.

A full moon often sparks assertions that the regular astronomical occurrence leads to heightened amounts of eccentric behaviour or changes in blood circulation.  Jill Crosby told us that she always heard that calves should be dehorned on a full moon because they will not bleed.  She said that she witnessed the phenomenon as a teenager.  Crosby also explained that her father, who was a pilot, told her the weather could be predicted by the pattern of the exhaust contrail left by the aircraft at 35,000 feet.  If the contrail is straight, good weather is on the way.  If it develops a zig-zag pattern, a weather disturbance is approaching.  Crosby said she has always found it to be true.

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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