Monday, February 15, 2016

Legends, lore and almanacs may give us a glimpse of 2016

Mountain legends say if owls scream in daylight, bad weather will follow

Will you be smart or lazy?
Although we have only lived full-time in the mountains of North Carolina for four years, I have been visiting this breathtaking area of the country since I was in high school.

I’ve spent many a happy day sitting by a waterfall on Cedar Creek listening to my friend Margaret spin tales of catamounts, panthers, owls and wildflowers that possess magical powers.

American Indians used trilliums as an eye medication
For years she has been collecting the local lore -- advice, stories and superstitions handed down from generation to generation. For example, legend holds that if you see a butterfly first in spring, you will be smart. But if you spy a fence lizard first, you will be lazy.

Of course, much of the mountain lore deals with atmospheric conditions. So after experiencing such unusual warm weather over the holidays, I decided to revisit some of the signs old timers rely on for predicting the weather.

Sage advice or old wives’ tales?

Here are a few of my favorites:

-       If it snows on Christmas Day, the grass will be green by Easter.
-       The first 12 days of January foretell the weather for each month of the year.
-       When hogs carry sticks in their mouths, bad weather is ahead.
-       If smoke blows to the ground, it will soon snow.
-       If you see raccoons and possums feeding during the day, there will be bad weather in 12 hours.
-       When the new moon rises with its points turned up, there will be no rain.
-       There will be a winter snow for every morning fog in August.
-       If you harvest onions with thin skins, the winter will be mild.
-       If the wooly worm has a narrow brown band, winter will be harsh.

Spider webs are said to stop cuts from bleeding
I like the idea of observing animal behavior and nature for clues as to what may lie ahead weather-wise. It’s a lot more fun than listening to the weather guessers on TV.

In fact I think I’ll start a journal and see if the “signs” prove to be correct or just fanciful tales.

I also consulted Baer’s Agricultural Almanac & Gardener’s Guide to see what is in store for the mountains in the upcoming months. Baer’s has published a guide since 1825 and it is an interesting collection of everything from long-range weather forecasts and garden news to recipes and folklore. Surprise! It appears colder days are ahead.

The largest Lady Banksia rose covers 9,000 square feet
The almanac in the past has also included some fun facts about roses. Apparently the largest rose bloom ever bred was 33” in diameter. In addition, the largest rosebush in the world is a white Lady Banksia that came to Arizona from Scotland in 1885 and has a single trunk six feet in diameter. Talk about a pruning challenge!

Reading about these unusual roses has me anxiously looking forward to spring.

And since it did not snow here on a balmy Christmas Day, I’m assuming that the legend is right, and we won’t have bright green grass by Easter.

Mountain folks say speedy red squirrels can snag a pine cone and be waiting on the ground when it falls


Gaia Gardener: said...

I've seen that Lady Banks' rose in Tombstone, Arizona - it's wonderful! For a gardener, it's worth a trip to go see it, if you're ever in the area.

Lynn Hunt said...

Oh wow Gaia Gardener! How exciting that you have actually seen the rose. It is almost too huge to imagine. I'd love to see it one day! Kind of reminds me of the grapevine at Hampton Court Palace that is 120 feet long. The roots are said to grow into the Thames.

Phillip Oliver said...

Birds on power lines means cold weather is coming! haha

Lynn Hunt said...

I'll have to add that one to the list, Phillip!! :)

Beth at PlantPostings said...

How interesting. I believe that some of the advice is probably true, as everything is tied together in nature and patterns can predict what will happen in the coming season or seasons. With that said, I have found some of these types of predictions to be faulty or less than reliable. For example, someone told me that if squirrels make their nests very high in the trees, we'll have a harsh winter. That has not come true this winter. But it is fun to think about these things. :)

Lynn Hunt said...

Dear Plant Postings, I agree it is fun to think about these things if we don't take them too seriously. Last year we had acorns everywhere and the old timers said it meant a very bad winter. As I recall we had one snow! But the concept made sense. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Les said...

My family poured over the Foxfire books when I was growing up. My brother and I wanted to build everything in them. Their version of the zodiac said that gardening was not a good occupation for Leo's. I've been trying to prove them wrong since.

Lynn Hunt said...

My Dad and I loved the Foxfire books too, Les. And you have proven them wrong to a fare thee well.

Sunil Patel said...

Hello Lynn, I'm not sure how long it takes for a Banksiae Rose to grow to have a six foot diameter trunk, but I am hoping it's a very long time as we have a Banksiae Lutea planted against the house to clamber up a wire framework and it's only very young. As for fore-telling the weather, you might as well roll the dice for the UK outlook, the place where you can experience all four seasons in one day. In fact, we had all four today: rain showers, hail, wonderfully warm sunshine and cold biting winds.

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