Weather – It’s one of our favourite topics of conversation, and has an effect on all of us, every day of the year. It dictates the way we dress, what we carry with us, and whether we schedule an activity or not. As Canadians we can’t wait for those first signs of spring and the melting snow, then in the summer we plan important family gatherings when the weather is warm and sunny, later, the fall ushers in a cooler more colourful change, and then there are the challenges of getting around during the winters months.
Farmers are more concerned with the weather, and discuss it more often, than any group of people I’ve met, and this becomes abundantly clear when you spend your youth in a rural area. Will there be enough rain, or too much rain, will a drought destroy hard work and money invested, will it be dry enough to harvest? These things are a constant source of worry for a farmer, and have a huge impact on whether it will be a financially successful season, or a fiscal disaster.
Our Dad had many of his own sayings about weather that he shared from time to time. He grew up on a farm in Drummond Township in the 1920s, then later did his own farming on the Third Line of Bathurst. Having spent so much of his life out in the country, he had also participated in countless conversations on the subject, and maybe had picked up a few weather sayings along the way.
“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning”
Is it true that a bright pink sky at sunset means fair weather the next day?
Dew on the Grass
“When the dew is on the grass,
Rain will never come to pass.
When grass is dry at morning light,
Look for rain before the night.”
Circle Around the Moon
“If a circle forms ‘round the moon,‘Twill rain soon.”
Leaves Turn Their Backs
“When leaves turn their back
‘tis a sign it’s going to rain.”
Birds Fly Low
“If birds fly low
expect rain and wind below.”
“Pale moon rains; Red moon blows.”
White moon neither rains or snows.”
“When the wind is in the east, it’s good for neither man nor beast.
When the wind is in the north, the old folk should not venture forth.
When the wind is in the south, it blows the bait in the fishes’ mouth.
When the wind is in the west, it is of all the winds the best.”
Rain Before Seven
“Rain before seven,
clear before eleven.”
“The sharper the blast
the sooner ‘tis past.”
“When your joints begin to ache,
rainy weather is at stake.”
“When the glass falls low, prepare for a blow;
when the glass is high, let your kites fly.”
“When clouds appear like towers,
the Earth is refreshed by frequent showers.”
“A Sun Dog at play
Rain is on the way.”
A cow with its tail to the west, makes weather the best;
a cow with its tail to the east, makes weather the least.”
“When the bees crowd out of their hive, the weather makes it good to be alive.
When the bees crowd into their hive again, it is a sign of thunder and of rain.”
“If a fly lands on your nose, swat it till it goes.
If the fly then lands again, it will bring back heavy rain.”
Candlemas (Feb. 2nd)
“If Candlemas Day, be bright and gay, saddle your horse, and go buy some hay
If Candlemas Day be cloudy and rough, stay by the fire, you’ll have enough.”
“If the rooster goes crowing to bed;
He’ll certainly rise with a watery head.”
“When Ladybugs swarm,
Expect a day that’s warm.”
“When kitty washes behind her ears,
we’ll soon be tasting heavens tears.”
“Frogs will sing before the rain,
but in the sun they’re quiet again.”
“When the stars being to huddle,
the earth will soon become a puddle.”
“If autumn leaves wither and hang on the boughs,
it foretells a frosty winter and much snow.“
“See how high the hornet’s nest;
‘Twill tell how high the snow will rest.”
“If snow begins at mid-day
Expect a foot of it to lay.”
“When the corn husks are thick ‘tis very clear,
The winter will be long and the weather severe.”
“Onion skins very thin,
Mild winter coming in;
Onion skins thick and tough,
Coming winter cold and rough.”
“If you hear the first song of the Cicadas today,
Then frost is just six weeks away.“
“When clouds look like black smoke
a wise man will put on his cloak.“
Weather Lore, Sayings, and Rhymes:
There are many sayings and lore related to the weather that have evolved over the years, some of them passed down through the generations, and some have been around so long that we have no idea of their origins. What we do know is that the reason these old sayings, old wives-tales, and expressions have been around this long is because many of them are true.
Long before there were weather apps for your phone, or Doppler radar, or the local forecasts, our ancestors were busy observing their natural surroundings. Through their observations, they noticed that animal behavior, clouds, and other elements of nature gave them some important clues about the weather to come.
Their weather folklore was often in the form of ‘sayings’, simple rhymes and anecdotes, and these were passed down from generation to generation.
Many of this old weather lore has been passed down through our families, and remains with us today.
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Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society
Author of 10 books: “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”
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