Miss Sally’s Old-Fashioned Ways of Predicting the Weather

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, Heart of Hollyhill

September 23, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Holly County. We were at Miss Sally’s house on Sunday. You remember her, don’t you? She was the one who took those chickens I won and then let me visit them. She lives out in the country close to Dad’s church. Everybody loves Miss Sally. And everybody listens when she talks. Even me. Dad too. He says a person can learn a lot by listening to older people talk. 

Anyway I found this wooly worm in her yard. She says a black wooly worm means a cold winter coming our way. I’d heard that before, but I didn’t know crickets could tell the weather. She says if you can find the right kind of cricket and count the number of times it chirps in 14 seconds and add 40 — the result is the
approximate outside temperature in Fahrenheit. Also, if a cricket chirps real loud, you’d better be finding your umbrella because it’s going to rain.

Miss Sally says there are lots of old-fashioned ways to predict the weather. She asked me if I remembered how many fogs we had in August because every fog then means a snow in the winter and the heavier the fog, the deeper the snow we’ll get. Then there are persimmons. Have you ever eaten a persimmon? One that’s not ripe does funny things to your mouth. But Miss Sally says you have to cut open the seed to tell the weather. If the inside of the seed looks like a spoon, that means lots of snow. If it’s a knife shape, get ready for bitter cold, but if it looks like a fork, the winter is going to be mild. She says we can look for a persimmon tree next time I come to the farm and check out the seeds. 

She says even the smoke from her chimney can let her know when to expect rain. If the smoke seems to be sliding down the chimney to the ground, then it will rain within 24 hours. A ring around the moon predicts rain too. If there are stars inside the ring, that’s how many days before it’s going to rain. Tree leaves flipping upside down is a good sign of rain too. She says that’s just a few of the signs of rain on the way. 

I asked her if the signs really worked and she said she figured people have been watching for weather signs since Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden and that it’s a good thing to pay attention to what the people who came before you knew whether it was about the weather or about how to live a good life. 

On the way home, Dad said Miss Sally was right about that, but the weather signs didn’t always work, especially that wooly worm one because you might see a brown one and a black one crawling along together and then which kind of winter were you supposed to have? A mixed one, I guess, but then that’s the kind of winters we usually have. Some cold days. Some not so cold days. So maybe the wooly worms are still right. 

I told Wes that, and he told me he had a sure fire way of predicting the weather. A Jupiter rock. I asked him how it told the weather. I should have known better. Here’s what he said. “When the rock is dry, the day is fair. When it’s wet, it’s raining. When the rock is white, it’s snowing. When the rock disappears, it’s snowed a lot.”

I think I could find a weather rock like that right here on Earth. Do you know any signs that predict the weather? Do you believe they’re right?