The good thing about this time of year is that I can start thinking about running up to Gatewood's to replenish my persimmon pulp supply.
The bad thing is, it's time once again to try to figure out what the heck the weather signs are telling us about the coming winter.
First on the agenda is counting the number of fogs in August. Since I went on vacation then, I got that information from my cousin, the Dancing Librarian. (Don't worry, she's qualified. Her grandmother, Sheridan's Clara Hoover, was THE local expert on interpreting weather signs.)
The DL reports there were three fogs in August. That means three big snows this winter.
The wind directions the day before, the day of and the day after the autumn equinox are also important. The day before the equinox forecasts the weather in November and December, the equinox represents January and February's weather, and the day after predicts what March and April will be like.
This is where things start getting complicated. I tried to keep track of the wind on those days, but the sources I used didn't always agree.
What I ended up with was, on September 21 the wind came from the southeast in the morning, and from the southwest at noon and in the evening. On the equinox, September 22, the wind came from the southeast in the morning, the east at noon and the east/northeast in the evening. On September 23 the wind was out of the southeast in the morning, was calm at noon and came from the southeast again in the evening.
According to Clara Hoover, a north wind signifies cold weather, a northwest wind forecasts a blizzard and a northeast wind means heavy snow. Wind from the east predicts wet cold, a west wind is cooler weather, a south wind is fair weather and a southwest wind is fair and cooler.
Unfortunately, for some reason she didn't leave us an interpretation for a southeast wind. Since south winds are fair and east winds are wet cold, maybe a southeast wind points to fair and cold?
When we move on to wooly worms and persimmon seeds, this year's predictions become really squirrelly.
Kim Porter reports a Lapel friend observed a wooly worm the color of "a good quality camel-hair coat."
Michael Kobrowski spotted a wooly worm that same color in Tipton County, but right next to it was an all white one! (White wooly worms predict more snow than usual, a brown color indicates a mild winter and black means cold weather.)
Ed and Claire Snyder found a wooly worm that was black on the ends and brown in the middle, and Bonnie Zarins saw another with those colors reversed. Bonnie also ran across one that was black from head to tail across the top and brown on the bottom! (I can't even guess what THAT means.)
Finally, there are the persimmon seeds. According to Clara, if you see a knife shape when you split a persimmon seed, it indicates mild weather, a fork means bitter cold and a spoon predicts many snows.
The persimmon seed report also came from Bonnie. She described the seeds she split as showing a fork, some spoons, a few candles (candles?) and "some mysterious symbols that could mean we might all need to move to a warmer climate or totally ignore the whole myth about persimmons having any wisdom!"
If you can get a coherent forecast out of all this, let me know. I'm afraid it's beyond me. I just keep hoping I'll get someone interested enough they'll take over for Clara and become the county's new weather sign expert.
Paula Dunn's From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org