This Year’s Winter Forecast

It’s nearing the end of October, and what a beautiful season it’s been. So many days of being able to go out and walk in the crisp clear air; to enjoy the trees in all their colors and to watch their leaves fall lazily down for us to crunch through as we walk along the dirt road. During the past couple weeks we picked up selected leaves along the way – ones with good color and shape to use for a centerpiece on our table. The Shaggy Mane mushrooms, which had lined up along the center and edges of the road, watched us as we made our selections.


We stopped every so often, as we did last year, to check on the woolly bear caterpillars, when we saw them crossing our path. We did want to get a good forecast of our coming winter weather. Most of these caterpillars were average – half golden-brown in the middle with an even amount of black divided between the front and back. That, too, is a good sign. At least I take it to mean a moderate winter.  However, there were some which had more golden-brown than black and even one with only a black tip in the front. I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew then our winter would be mild.


Filled with confidence about this forecast we walked briskly home, only to discover a completely black woolly bear waiting for us by the doorstep! I should have looked the other way. Which one was giving the correct weather prediction? I fear it’s the latter.  As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is on its way up the coast, and already out here we’ve seen a change in the weather. Early this morning the black clouds rolled in. Snow – possibly a large amount – is forecast for Tuesday.


Yesterday I probably took my last walk around the loop for awhile. Some of the silk on the milkweed plants was still hanging on, as were a few of the determined leaves on the trees, but all shall blow away in a day or two. Another leaf just fluttered down past the window, and soon after Mark came in to report that he had gone outside and the black woolly bear was by the doorstep.  The message was clear. And now we just wait.


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