Tom Stangl

I hope you had a great Labor Day holiday. I am left pondering where the summer went because it took so long to get here this year.

But I cannot and must not spend too much time worrying about the past. If the press releases from the publishers of the almanacs are to be believed, it’s now time to get serious about winter.

Yes, no time to dilly dally with autumn. Chug that pumpkin spice latte. You’ll need the caffeine to power through the leaves, which have already begun falling at my house. You may want to stock up on apples from the orchard, you will need them for the “never ending winter” predicted by the Old Farmer’s Almanac, which was 80.5 percent accurate in their predictions of last winter’s weather.

According to news accounts, there will be “big chills and strong storms bringing a steady roof beat of heavy rain and sleet, not to mention piles of snow” with no fewer than seven large snowstorms from coast to coast.

Both the Old Farmer’s Almanac and the Farmer’s Almanac are predicting cold outbreaks for late January with wet snow and chilly conditions extending into April.

These publications continue to make news each year with their fearless prognostications of the weather. They refuse to reveal how they do their forecasts and usually talk about how they look at history, the moon and nature to predict the weather. One story I read online listed 20 different signs in nature that predict the weather. See how many you know:

1. Thicker-than-normal corn husks. 2. Woodpeckers sharing a tree. 3. The early arrival of the snowy owl. 4. The early departure of geese and ducks. 5. The early migration of the Monarch butterfly. 6. Thick hair on the nape of a cow’s neck. 7. Heavy and numerous fogs during August. 8. Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands. 9. Mice chewing furiously to get into your home. 10. The early arrival of crickets on the hearth. 11. Spiders spinning larger-than-usual webs and entering the house in great numbers. 12. Pigs gathering sticks. 13. Ants marching in a line rather than meandering. 14. Early seclusion of bees within the hive. 15. Unusual abundance of acorns. 16. Muskrats burrowing holes high on the river bank. 17. “See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest.” 18. The size of the orange band on the Woollybear (or Woollyworm) caterpillar. 19. Squirrels gathering nuts early to fortify against a hard winter. 20. Frequent halos or rings around the sun or moon forecasts numerous snowfalls.

At the end of the summer, we tend to begin to get antsy about the winter. It’s only natural, since many of us don’t migrate like the birds. For the record, some of us are very jealous of those of you who do get to migrate for the winter, but that’s another column.

All this talk of winter gives us something to talk about with strangers because everyone likes to complain about the weather. In a time of sharply divided politics, our hate of winter seems to be the one thing we all can agree upon, so I guess that’s a good thing?

Well, look on the bright side. It will all be over in seven months.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

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