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Diane Mack: Rough winter ahead? We do get hints

The Examiner

Prior to moving to Missouri, we lived in Arizona, where I saw very few signs of winter. If anything, come September, the temp dropped to 90 degrees.

However, Missouri is another story.

Diane Mack

Oh I don’t like winter. It’s cold, windy, icy, and snowy. I’d rather be on a beach, with my toes in the sand and the ocean happily waving at me.

My grandfather had a lot to say about a pending hard winter. So did my mom. I’d put them both up against any weatherman, anywhere.

In fact I found this poem, a gardener’s rhyme about onions:

Onion’s skin very thin, Mild winter coming in; Onion’s skin thick and rough,

Coming winter cold and rough.

Since we are facing winter and there is no turning back, let me share some of the signs of a cold and rough winter.

Here we go.

If it’s going to be cold, real cold, you may see two woodpeckers sharing a tree. You might also see the early arrival of the snowy owl.

You too may experience the premature arrival of crickets in the house. In fact, we’ve got that one going over here. It sounded like the tabernacle cricket choir last night.

Anyway, another possible sign of a frigid winter is the early departure of geese, ducks and the Monarch butterfly.

I can also warn you, if there are any cows in your neighborhood, and they have thick hair on the napes of their necks, you’d better chop some more wood.

The biggest imposition, I’m hearing pretty well all night, is acorns falling. Or that darn oak tree is throwing them at my bedroom windows and walls. Apparently, if there is an abundance of acorns, look out. It’s going to be extremely frosty, this winter.

There have also been lots of squirrels in the backyard collecting their 2020 food storage.

Anyone notice any mice in the garage or attic? They say that’s an omen, too.

In addition, if the woolly bear caterpillar has a larger orange band, you better buy extra socks.

The Farmer’s Almanac reports that heavy fogs in August, along with spiders spinning larger webs and inviting themselves inside the house, are two good predictors of freezing temps.

About a week ago, it was extremely cold, when I remembered that I had left a large can of Rico’s Gourmet nacho cheese sauce in the back of my car.

It was dark and late. I didn’t want the cheese to spoil, so I grabbed my blue cotton housecoat and ran to the car.

As I lifted the back car door, that darn can shot out, like a caged cat. And I had to follow it, in my blue cotton robe, and no shoes.

It was unbelievable how fast that nacho cheese was rolling. Of course, at that moment, a neighbor passed me, laughing his head off.

I don’t know if it was the runaway cheese can or my blue housecoat, blowing in the wind, that gave him enjoyment.

It’s not like I chase cans down the street on a regular basis.

Well, let me wrap this up with a poem.

There are many signs of winter

I wished they’d all go away.

Sounds like there are no options,

Since Mother Nature has had her say.

So load up the firewood holder

And bring the nacho cheese inside.

Prepare for winter, get ready for nippy,

Yes, my neighbor laughed, till he cried.      

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at