Down through the annals of time and even now in this modern era, man has always searched for ways of predicting the weather. Admittedly, some of the very early cilvilzations went to great extremes in weather forcasting. The Aztecs for example, believed that human sacrifice was the only way of getting the attention of Tlaloc, the Rain God. I wonder if they used a lottery system in selecting the unlucky victim or just asked for volunteers! Human history is littered with ancient Gods, from all around the world with the power to control the weather.
An Egyptian deity was Ra the Sun God, the Chinese believed in Yu Shi, Master of Rain, in Norse Mythology we have Thor, the God of Thunder, in the United States that title is held by Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS. The Greeks gave us Poseidon, the God of the Sea and hurricanes, even the word, meteorology, which means “the study of things in the air”, is taken from the Greek language. Many Native American tribes performed Rain Dances, and African tribes of Ethiopia and the Sahara Desert believed Shamans, held special rain making powers.
We may laugh at these ancient rituals as nothing more than superstitions, but we're really not that far removed when you consider our own traditional sayings, and old wives' tales. Red sky at night sailor's delight, red sky in morning sailors take warning. A halo around the sun or the moon expect rain, dew on the grass, no rain will come to pass, or when smoke descends, good weather ends. If the weeds are tall in the summer, it means a deeper winter snow, I wonder if this still holds true if you keep everything mowed down. My favorite is, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.
The world's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the end of winter since 1887. Poor Phil only has a success rate of about 35%, which may not sound impressive, but hey, that's not bad for a groundhog! According to local folklore the Wooly Worm is the best way of predicting the uncertainty of the coming winter. A wider rusty brown section, expect a mild winter, the more black, the more severe winter will be. This reminds me of a Mark Twain quote, “If the thermometer had been an inch longer we would have all frozen to death”.
Every October, since 1988, Beattyville Ky, plays host to the Wooly Worm Festival, a homecoming like event with a parade, food and crafts, live music and the always exciting wooly worm race! The wooly worm freezes solid during the winter, but with the warmth of springtime it thaws out, and this little miracle of nature is transformed into the beautiful Isabella Tiger Moth.
Years ago, as a young boy, during a very dry spell, I watched with excitement and amazement as an old man walked across a field with a forked willow branch. Immediately, I was hooked and believed with all my heart that a geyser of cold spring water would come rushing out of the ground. That didn't happen, but the man said, “There's water down there, I just ain't found the right place to dig”. Charles Dudley Warner once said, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it”. That may be true, but it always makes for great conversation.