It is always a really spectacular sight to see at this time of the year when hundreds of noisy geese take to the sky and form a perfect V formation as they head south to enjoy the hot-spots and welcome their next fuzzy generation of goslings. In the meantime for those of us who can’t just sneak away to the sun and sand we will dress up, snuggle up and prepare for whatever Old Man Winter has to offer. Another great treat of nature last week along with surprise snow shoveling practise, was that great big moon, which we won’t see again for 80 years, and the soon to appear wild and wonderful explosion of the northern lights.
For those of us who have any faith in the Old Farmers’ Almanac, which has been predicting weather since 1792, they are claiming that our Canadian prairies can expect a much colder and snowier winter this time around and who knows how long it will last? I guess I will have to refer to myself as somewhat of an old-timer, but I will always look forward to sitting down with our wise old ‘weather prognosticators,’ who have been around these parts for a long time, and just love to give us their bold and often brash predictions of what to look forward to for all seasons.
According to our history books, folks all over the world have been predicting the weather for countless centuries and long before the arrival of such electronic gadgets as Doppler radar, satellites, the electric telegraph, wind socks, and of course the Weather Channel. Way back then and until well into the 19th century their ‘fearless forecasts’ came from natural signs, and here are some of the favourite ones from which they could inform their neighbours and friends of impending weather.
When the hornets, wasps and bees start building their nests higher it was a threat of a severe winter and lots of snow. Most animals that spend a lot of time outside will develop a much thicker coat of fur if they sense a very cold winter.
Early invasion of rodents into buildings likely means that cold weather is just around the corner, so it is vitally important to prepare for those unwanted pests by filling the traps with fresh cheese and cutting down on the house cat’s treats.
If the squirrels are raiding your bird feeders and burying their food stashes, the deep freeze is surely on the way, and if the river dwellers are building their hang-outs higher up on the bank, there will likely be lots of snow.
In the fall watch for bigger pine cones and thicker corn husks which can be sure signs of a tough winter ahead.
Some of the grand old traditional ways of predicting the weather ahead which have been around for decades include: aching bones, the old reliable weather vane, cloud formations, and of course the annual ceremony of those sleepy old ground hogs. Our ancestors tell us that if birds and animals suddenly head for higher ground, follow them, because a powerful storm or flood could be impending, as shown by the horrific tsunami in Thailand in 2004.
Whatever the case, winter is upon us, and before we venture outside or out onto our highways and by-ways with our precious cargo, we should always be completely prepared and informed of what the weather may have in store for us. Please don’t forget the annual gala Christmas Tea and Cookie Sale on Thursday to November 24 from 2-4 p.m. at the Fort Ostell Museum, make a date with the CP Christmas Train when it stops in Ponoka on Wednesday, December 7 at 3:45 p.m. (donations for Food Bank please), and have a great week, all of you.