byJohn_Walter06-27-201204:23 PM - edited 06-28-201208:26 AM
At times when weather is top of mind, I like to re-read a favorite book, Weather Proverbs, by Dr. George Freier, a man who combined science with a farmer's horse sense about the weather.
Throughout his life, Freier took great interest in how proverbs, sayings, and poems help predict and explain the weather. He grew up on an isolated farm in Pierce County, Wisconsin, and there grew sensitive to the weather signals sent by plants and animals. In the Navy during World War II, he listened to the lore of sailors. Later at the University of Minnesota he studied and taught atmospheric physics and at one point worked on a weather project for NASA.
His book draws on the observations and wisdom of those who had to cope with the weather for many generations--farmers, sea captains, sailors and Native Americans. In the book he seeks to explain the intuition of those old-time weather watchers.
Some sayings collected in Weather Proverbs deal with short-range weather:
If there is dew on the grass in the morning, fair weather.
Clear moon, frost soon.
Sunshiny shower lasts half an hour
The higher the clouds, the fairer the weather.
When birds stop singing,
A storm is on the way.
One section of the book deals with long-range proverbs, from which Frier believed we can find clues for how plants and animals have evolved an ability to sense weather months ahead. He points out that we don't know the physical reasons for why the proverbs may or may not contain some truth, but he adds that the sayings come from all over the world and often are in agreement across time and space.
Here are a few from his collection that might have some relevance to this year's weather.
Early insects, early spring, good crops.
There can never be too much rain before midsummer.
Don't plant your corn until the oak leaf is as big as a squirrel's ear.
Calm weather in June sets corn in tune.
Fall bugs begin to chirp six weeks before a frost.
January warm, the Lord have mercy.
Anyway, it's fun to think about. Do you know any old sayings that seem appropriate this year?