We finally got around to checking the persimmon seeds to see what kind of winter to expect, and it is not good.
Well, maybe it is good if you are a kid looking forward to snow-days off, but if you are a workingman or workingwoman who needs to get to the jobsite early, it is not. There is absolutely no fun at all in getting out and clearing off and warming up the car or truck early in the morning to get to work on time.
But the seeds have spoken and they are showing spoons, and nothing but spoons, which in folklore indicates that there will be some extensive shoveling to do this winter.
Maybe you are not acquainted with the Ozarks art of predicting winter by cutting open persimmon seeds. Listen: if you cut the seeds open, you’ll see either a spoon, a fork or a knife. Well, sometimes you see that. It’s the seed germ, and sometimes in your cutting, you’ll see nothing, or only a part of something.
But, rest assured, cut open enough seeds and you’ll see a spoon, a fork or a knife. Sometimes there are more knives, which means a sharp, cutting, cold temperature. Sometimes there are forks, which indicates that there will be light precipitation. Sometimes there are spoons, which indicates heavy snowfall.
When you get a mix of two or three, you have to interpret what it will mean. A combination of spoons and knives would be, in some people’s opinion, a horrific combination, representing a cold, cold winter with lots of heavy snow.
Well, as usual this fall, we picked up eight persimmon seeds. We always pick up eight, which is the number of people on The Ark during the world’s greatest ever weather event, the Great Deluge or Great Flood.
From those eight persimmons, several seeds emerge. The problem is cutting them open precisely and skillfully enough to split the germ visibly. I only had about half a dozen seed-halves that showed anything at all. Unfortunately, those half dozen were all spoons, predicting heavy snowfall.
Given the fact that we’ve already had some snow this fall, and the mice have been working overtime to get into my too-big old house, the seeds seem to be confirming the gut feeling this is going to be a bad, bad winter.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which is the yellow-covered one with the hole in the upper left hand corner so you can hang it on a nail in the outhouse and read it regularly—warned that we should “prepare to shiver with below-normal winter temperatures from the Heartland westward to the Pacific and in the Desert Southwest, Pacific Southwest, and Hawaii.”
But The Old Farmer’s Almanac said there will be “above normal winter temperatures elsewhere.”
For the places where it will be cold, the “frigid and frosty conditions will last well into spring, bringing little relief to the winter weary,” especially to the area that includes Missouri.
Moreover, The Old Farmer predicted “winter will be remembered for strong storms bringing a steady roofbeat of heavy rain and sleet, not to mention piles of snow.”
The almanac predicts that “the middle of the country,” which I presume includes Missouri, “can bank on a slush fund, as ‘more wet than white’ conditions will leave sludgy messes that freeze during the overnights.”
Meanwhile, the competing Farmers’ Almanac predicted what is called a “polar coaster” season, which it added “is just as bad as it sounds.”
"Our extended forecast is calling for yet another freezing, frigid, and frosty winter for two-thirds of the country," Farmers' Almanac Editor Peter Geiger says.
The almanac said their experts “predict areas east of the Rockies all the way to the Appalachians will experience a particularly brutal season.”
Farmers’ Almanac also listed these folklorish predicters you can use:
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.