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10 not-so-certain certain ways to predict winter

Published 11:46am Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

“The door on the bathroom won’t stay closed.”

“I know.”

“Aren’t you going to do something about it?”

“I am. I look the other way whenever anyone is in the bathroom.”

 Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors —both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: you don’t have to believe everything you hear in order to repeat it.

 I’ve learned

1. There is no such thing as an odor-free litter box.

2. “Ironically” has come to mean “coincidentally.”

3. The person seated behind you at a sporting event will have the loudest voice.

How to tell a winter

1. The wider the middle brown band is on a woolly bear caterpillar, the milder the coming winter will be.

2. The first trackable snowfall occurs six weeks after the snowbird (junco) returns.

3. The height of the galls on goldenrods indicates the depth snow will be.

4. Count the number of days from the first snowfall until Christmas. This will be the number of snowfalls during winter.

5. Frequent halos around the sun or the moon forecast a severe winter.

6. When leaves fall early, winter will be mild. When leaves fall late, winter will be severe.

7. An abundance of acorns is a sign of a rough winter to come.

8. Onion skins very thin, mild winter coming in.

9. Count the number of foggy mornings in August. That will be the number of snowfalls in the winter

9. If you have been paying attention, you know that there was already a No. 9.

10. If squirrels drive snowplows, it’s going to be a bad winter.

Facts or folklore? Probably a bit of each. One thing for sure, one of them will be right.

 Putting on the pounds

We gain weight as we get older. There are many reasons that are given for this increase in size. The true reason we cast a bigger shadow with age is because of all the gum we swallowed when we were kids. Food sticks to our ribs because of the gum that is already stuck there.

A world record

At the Midwest Birding Symposium in Ohio, I took part in an effort to get into the Guinness Book of World Records. I was one of 801 people who did the call of a barred owl. It was a hoot.

 Safe driving

Once upon a time, I helped put on safe driving classes. Included in the presentation was a student hitting the brakes of a car he or she was driving and learning how long it takes to stop. We preached that drivers should maintain one car length behind the car ahead for every ten miles per hour of speed. There are updated recommendations today.

I took to the freeway recently and decided to see if the old method was still useful. At 70 miles per hour, I positioned myself seven car lengths behind the car ahead of me. It looked good. Too good. A car from the left lane pulled in front of me and settled into the right lane. I adjusted my position so that I was now seven car lengths behind the new arrival to my lane. I had to slow down a bit in order to accomplish this task and this required the car behind to pass me and then pull back into the right lane just in front of me. This necessitated my dropping farther back in order to maintain the required space. Vehicles kept leapfrogging my car. I continued to drop back to provide proper spacing; so much so that after two hours driving away from home, I was back home.

From the mailbag

This from Ric McArthur of Ontario, “You do not need a parachute to skydive. You need a parachute to skydive twice.

Nature notes

There is no scientific evidence that a surfeit of acorns foretells a mild winter. Mast crops are cyclical. Acorn production is a reflection of past conditions rather than a forecast. The weather when the oaks flower in the spring is significant. Oak flowers are wind-pollinated. Warm and dry conditions foster that process while cool and wet conditions have the opposite effect.

Talking to the Holstein

I was talking to the Holstein the other day. The Holstein is a retired milk cow, so she has time to talk. I asked her if she had any words to live by.

The Holstein chewed her cud thoughtfully and said, “In the pasture of life, don’t be a cowpie.

Meeting adjourned

Forget small slights immediately. Remember small kindnesses forever.

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