October 21, 2009

I worked in Minot, North Dakota, where winter is nearly always terrible.  The natives there would predict the next  winter’s weather by the shape of the road kill on the black macadam highways. If the animals were fat before being run over by wagons, cars, or trucks, they would be flattened out round.  If they were skinny in the fall, they would be longer and skinnier.  There were a lot of snowshoe rabbits there.

Wishek, N.D., is a town near Fargo, and is famous for two things – it was where Lawrence Welk was born and grew up and started playing accordion.  It is also famous for the annual “Wishek Freeze Cat Contests,” which is what the Russian settlers called flattened fat snow shoe rabbits. They were thrown for maximum distance, and the winners, male and female, were famous in that area.  I think it was where the idea later for ‘Frisbees’ was born.  I have noticed rounded animal forms on our highway road kills this year.

Theoretically, the amount of black and brown on certain caterpillars predicts the local winter weather, some corn silk formations may predict the future, Global Warming Scientists probably have warnings about Polar Bear problems due to ice loss, and the local and national television weather reporters, who don’t ever seem to be fired even after making several wrong weather predictions.  Writing winter weather predictions is not my forte, losing my writing income won’t seriously affect my life, nor the publisher, so I am standing moot.

But, the ‘Farmer’s Almanac,’ one of the longest lived long-range published weather predictors, has this to say about October:  1-3: Cold rains across the Great Lakes.  October 4-7, many showers and a few thunderstorms, Great Lakes to Kentucky.  October 8-11: Rains Great Lakes, then cooler, then clear and cooler weather moves in from the west.  October 12-15:  Generally fair weather prevails.  October 16-19: Humid and rather showery from the Great Lakes South.  October 20-23:  Showers, followed by a mixture of clouds and sun.  October 24-27: Considerable cloudiness and areas of fog cover Great Lakes, and Ohio River Basin.  October 28-31 Generally dry weather should arrive in time for Halloween.

I think that is a good prediction, and that is available on line for local, regional, or national future periods – if you are young enough to really understand computer stuff, or at Farmers Almanac.com. – If, like me, your kids or grand- kids gave you a computer you can turn it on and type it in.  I still have five acres of lawn to mow  comfortably with my 1952 Ford mower at six miles an hour, or with my expensive 15 mile an hour hard riding Turf Tiger, but both take five gallons of gas.  The Turf Tiger does it in one day, and prunes closer to the hundreds of trees still alive and growing in my country paradise.  It is more fun to drive the old Ford. 

I predict I am going to feel really colder this winter than I ever felt when I was young, and I will miss our wood  burning stove, and that those are the most accurate weather predictions I have ever made, and that next year will be better.  .  .  .  Good gardening

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