Sunday, January 17, 2010

Whither the Weather?


January opens
The box of the year
And brings out days
That are bright and clear.

And brings out days
That are cold and gray,

And shouts, "Come see
What I brought today!"
Leland B. Jacobs

Today the snow is almost all gone after the warmer weather of the past few days, and the rain today. I am sorry to see it go because now we have mud. But the uncovered grass looks green and happy, so perhaps there is some good to come from a winter thaw.

About this time of year, I begin to wonder what we'll be facing weatherwise in the coming months. My oldest son, who is an amateur meteorologist, predicts that we'll have a little warmer weather for the next couple of weeks, and then winter will return in force in February. He's been accurate all winter, so I think he'll be right again.

I browsed online to seek weather wisdom on this month of January.

Here's a few things I gleaned from my ramblings:

Look out for January 25th! Because:

"If Saint Paul's day
be faire and cleare,
It doth betide a happy yeare ;
But if by chance it then should rain,
It will make deare all kinds of graine;
And if ye clouds make dark ye skie,
Then neats and fowles this year shall die;
If blustering winds do blow aloft,
Then wars shall trouble ye realm full oft."
from Ancient Folk Lore.

The above website also includes this intriguing bit of information:

In Alsace there is a common belief that on the evening of this day a fierce contest prevails among the winds, and the wind which proves victorious at midnight ("the devil's dancing hour") will be the prevailing wind throughout the year.

Whoa. This might be worth staying up to observe.

January 25th is actually the day that the conversion of St. Paul is celebrated; there is another "St. Paul's Day in June, according to this website. But the belief in being able to predict the year's weather on this date apparently has older origins:

"It has been an article of constant belief in Western Europe, during the middle ages, and even down to our own time, that the whole character of the coming year is prognosticated by the condition of the weather on this day; and this is the more singular, as the day itself was one of those to which the old prognosticators gave the character of a dies Ægyptiacus, or unlucky day." From The Book of Days.

A few more things you might need to be aware of when considering the future weather:

Sun dogs predict a cold spell.

Fog in January predicts a wet Spring.

The banks of snow in winter will equal the height of the banks of weeds in summer.

In late winter do not knit on the doorstep, as that is known to lengthen the winter.

Thunder in the fall warns of a cold winter.

The nearer the New Moon to Christmas Day, the harder the winter. (when was the new moon in December? If my memory is right, it was mid-month?)

And just for fun, care to guess this riddle?

"From Heaven I fall, though from earth I begin.
No lady alive can show such a skin.
I'm bright as an angel, and light as a feather,
But heavy and dark, when you squeeze me together."

excerpted from a poem by James Parton.

January is a good time to read poetry, because after all, "To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June." - Jean-Paul Sartre

So, here's a poem perfect for this time of year:

From Jack Frost

"The door was shut, as doors should be,
Before you went to bed last night;
Yet Jack Frost has got in, you see,
And left your window silver white.

He must have waited till you slept;
And not a single word he spoke,
But pencilled o'er the panes and crept
Away again before you woke.

And now you cannot see the hills
Nor fields that stretch beyond the lane;
But there are fairer things than these
His fingers traced on every pane."
- Gabriel Setoun (1861-1930)


Country Whispers said...

I'm not sure which is worse- the snow or the mud.
I sure hope our weeds aren't as high as the snow banks. Then again if I'm a good little gardener there won't be any weeds.

Angela said...

Hey Granny Sue!

I'm afraid that with all of the snow that has melted on top of all of the rain we got last night and today, the creeks are running out of their banks! We are currently flooded in I'm sure. Hopefully I will be able to make it out tomorrow.

Do you watch wsaz? Chris Bailey has the best weather blog I've ever seen. He has been on mark with the weather.

I'm with you on being glad to see the grass again. I was a little surprised at how green our grass was yesterday when I was feeding the birds. It was 60 degrees out in Hurricane. The kids played out all day and I cooked on the grill!

I will say that Mr. Winter most always gives me a present of snow on my birthday which is February 10th. I think the only time it didn't snow on my birthday was when we lived in Maryland for 4 years. It didn't snow in Maryland but it snowed in West Virginia! lol

Granny Sue said...

I hear you, Jessica. That would be some tall weeds, wouldn't it? Of course, the proverbs were written in the days before weedeaters--we're blessed!

Granny Sue said...

Angela, we don't have a television anymore. It's awesome to not have that constant noise, although occasionally it does mean we're out of the loop. We follow the weather online on, which is the NOAA site. It's usually accurate, and even better, it lacks the hysteria of TV weatherpeople. They can get so wrought up and scare everyone to death about a little snowfall.

Matthew Burns said...

This is a great post. I loved it.

The part about the old saying from Alsace was especially of interest to me. I had never heard this before, but alot of my ancestors hailed from the Alsace region, and this reminded me of something my great-granny used to say about the wind in the wintertime. She said that there was a good wind and an evil wind, and that they would battle throughout January and whichever "wind" won, that wind would determine the weather for the whole year.

It makes me kind of think it was this "devils dancing hour" that Granny was referring to, even though I'm sure she didn't know her folk knowledge probably had its roots in a folk saying from Alsace. While her saying and the Alsace saying you posted are somewhat different, they are enough alike to make me think.

Thanks for sharing,


Granny Sue said...

I'd say you're right, Matthew. This one was new to me, as was the St. Paul's day legend.But I like them both. And "devil's dancing hour" is a good descriptor for nights when the wind is fierce and changing, isn't it? Those dark, no-moon nights of scudding clouds...

Susan at Stony River said...

Our snow melted too and now we're sitting on a swamp. Bleeeh.

How is it possible I *never* heard of St. Paul's day weather wisdom? Now I can't wait!

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