Friday, October 10, 2008

Woolly Bear

Old Farmer's AlmanacThere are two occurrences in Santa Fe that define seasons to a lot of us who live here—the apricot trees blossoming by City Hall in the Spring and the first snow on Mt. Baldy. This past Saturday, we awoke to glittering, bright snow on the Sangre de Cristos, lots of snow! Even Mt. Baldy paled in comparison.

Is snow this early on the mountains a sign of a cold, wet winter? The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts the first frost in Santa Fe on October 15. When raking leaves last week, I found a plump, furry caterpillar moving as fast as it could through the grass. Caterpillars are commonly believed to be a predictor of weather; woolly bears are probably only second to the ground hog Punxsutawney Phil as a weather forecaster. But is it that the fuzz is thick or the black stripes wide? "Both,"says the Farmer’s Almanac, and heaven forbid we find a narrow orange band in the middle of the caterpillar. That predicts heavy snow. If it is “fat and sassy, it means bitter cold” according to the Almanac. If you want to be your own weather forecaster, here are some other signs of a rough winter:

* Very thick onion skins or corn husks.
* Woodpeckers sharing a tree
* Early arrival of crickets on the hearth
* Spiders spinning larger webs
* Lots and lots of acorns (Does it apply to piñons also? This is a bumper crop year in NM.)

Based on this one caterpillar’s fuzz, the piñon crop and the spider webs around my home, I am getting a second shovel and sand for my driveway. And maybe another load of wood, just in case. Who needs a TV weatherperson?

by PCH @ Main

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