Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The North wind doth blow.........

''''and we shall have snow.
And what will the robin do then, poor thing.

Just one of the weather rhymes which peppered my childhood in the pre-weather forecast days.
I suspect that the sophisticated weather forecasting only really developed during the Second World War. The farmer and I have been discussing this over the past few days.
Prior to Sunday's torrential three-inches downpour we watched the TV forecasts on Saturday evening. The weather forecaster on our local TV station said that there was rain in the South of the region and that it would creep up the country during Sunday - but that she thought most of North Yorkshire would escape it. Less than five minutes later we watched the National Weather forecaster. She said that rain would spread across the region from the South and she issued a severe weather warning. Well she was the more correct of the two although the farmer is pretty sure that our deluge came from the North East, not the South.
Do we really need this intense preoccupation with the weather (we British are reputedly obsessed by the weather anyway)? In pre-forecast days
farmers had plenty of weather signs which they took note of and which were almost invariably right.
In Winter, if the wind blows from the North then it is likely to have snow on it, coming from Arctic regions. In Lincolnshire which is on the East Coast, we knew that an East wind in winter meant snow blowing in from Russia and The Urals. And believe me, in Lincolnshire, where I spent the first twenty years of my life, when it comes from the East - it is jolly cold (as we used to say, there is little or no high ground between the Urals and us).
Almost always, if we wake up to damp, dismal fog here then by lunch time it will be raining, and the rain will clear the fog away.
The old folk lore is pretty accurate too - Rain before seven often means that it is fine by eleven.
If the dawn is a fiery red then it often means rain is on the way. If the sunset is fiery red then it usually means another fine day tomorrow.
The ultimate in "daft" forecasting occurs today in The Times (where would my blog be without my old faithful daily paper?) Each day Paul Simons has a Weather Eye column and in it, today, he talks about what this winter is probably going to be like - can somebody reading my blog please tell me what possible use this kind of forecast is:-

There is a fifty percent chance of a mild winter here in the UK, and thirty percent chance of it being a winter of average temperature and a twenty percent chance that it will be colder than normal. But, on the other hand, it might start out mild but then in January or February it might turn a lot colder. Poor old El Nino is once again to blame.

I suppose there will be some equally daft people who place bets on which it is going to be. Me,
I'll stick with the farmer's expert and well-used folklore eye, and take to heart his usual comment on any kind of weather - "we have to take what comes."

On a different note - sad the demise of Borders bookshops. The demise of any bookshop is sad and I suspect there will be more as more and more people go on line to order their books. For me there is no greater pleasure than wandering around a bookshop and browsing (and trying not to spend too much money). This year the farmer and I spent a morning in Barnes and Noble in Baltimore. It was absolutely heaving with people - the cafe was full to overflowing and there was a real buzz about it all. I managed to control my spending and only bought a complete Emily Dickinson Poems and Barack Obama's book about his early life.
The previous summer, on a scorching hot day, the farmer and I spent a similar morning in Borders in Scottsdale (Phoenix). Two floors of books and various other lovely things, lovely cafe with delicious cakes and lunches (we had both as we were there from eleven to three!) and I think you could have counted on your two hands the number of people in the shop - it was virtually empty.
When I got to the check out I was informed that they no longer took credit cards. It was the day before we flew home and we were almost out of dollars. We therefore had to put all the things we hoped to buy back on the shelves and we left with just one purchase = Steinbeck's Travels with Charley - worth every single dollar! I can't help feeling that that day was somehow significant to their eventual demise. But sad all the same.


Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

So your lack of American dollars did Borders in??? Oh my . . .

I so agree with you about weather forecasts. Sometimes we just expect the opposite of whatever is forecast - and we are usually right!

The writer from The Times really hedges his bets doesn't he? Could he be more non-committal?

Great post Weaver.

Poet in Residence said...

Good heavens! I had no idea that Borders had gone bust. I was only in Ellesmere Port Borders at Cheshire Oaks last week. I found a book I'd been after for years - Richard Askwith's Feet in the Clouds, I also bought a Zen book, and a conspiracy theory book about pyramids for reading on the plane. My mum bought a magazine and a crossword dictionary. The place seemed to be buzzing. The in-store cafe´ was full. I can't believe it. I was so looking forward to going back. Ordering a book on the internet to have it left on the doorstep by someone who can't be bothered to ring the doorbell is not quite the same is it?

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Very interesting post, Weaver! Your weather forecasters do seem to get their winds confused! The farmer's advice sounds much more reliable.

Here in Giraffe World, we test the wind on our necks - that's a pretty reliable way of telling whether it will bring rain or snow. Today we've all been out with our neckwarmers on as it's pretty chilly!

Heather said...

Once again I find myself agreeing with everything you say Weaver. The weather forecasts change according to which channel you are watching and I would take the word of an old countryman every time. The forecast you quoted sounds as if it might have been written for a comedy show! As for bookshops - they are an endangered species and need to be saved. Fortunately, even in our little town, we have a bookshop and the proprietor will order any book if he hasn't already got it in stock.

Reader Wil said...

Weather forecast in my country is much better than it used to be in the old days. Then we heard for instance:" fine weather and here and there some rain.." The problem was that WE always were here and there, for it was always raining.
Steinbeck's Travels with Charley was the first book by Steinbeck and I loved it. The next book by him was East of Eden, which is a true masterpiece. Thanks for sharing.

Robin Mac said...

The weather forecasting is just as crazy here in Oz - and they hedge their bets just as much also!
I can't believe any book store these days would not take credit cards - no wonder they have been in trouble. Perhaps it saved you from a large excess luggage bill however! Borders in Oz is still in business, they were hived off the British company a couple of years ago. Cheers, Robin

BT said...

Yup, I'm with you on the weather forecasting. It's often hopelessly out and the old folklore tales are usually pretty good, better than on the tv!

How very irritating that you had to put most of your purchases back at Borders - no wonder they went bust. The USA exists on credit cards, surely?

Totalfeckineejit said...

Here in Ireland if the wind blows from the west it means it's actually raining and if it blows from the East it's about to.

Cloudia said...

Weather lore and bookstore musings. Is it any wonder I love your blog?

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

dinesh chandra said...




Crafty Green Poet said...

It is a shame about Borders. I've noticed recently though, that mainstream bookshops aren't as good as they used to be, the range of books seems to be much more restricted.

jinksy said...

My Dad had a great store of weather based sayings, too. I remember laughing at his 'N'er cast a clout till May be out', as many's the time he sweltered in pullover and sports coat during a warm spell in April.

He'd have loved today's weather forecasting, I bet - if only to dispute it!

Golden West said...

My dad is like your farmer - more accurate than the professional newscasters. He always says that if the seabirds circle instead of flying straight, rain is on the way.

On the topic of Borders and store closings... The way it works here is that stores in shopping centers have to pay, in addition to their monthly rent, something called "triple net". This is a monthly fee for property tax, parking lot repairs, landscaping, security - you name it. It is divided amongst the tenants on a square footage basis. One of my favorite independent shops just closed because her triple net went from $200 to $2000 in one month, as once a big store closes, their share is then divvied up amongst the others. That's why you'll often see a chain reaction of multiple store closings - the triple net is never a fixed amount and is impossible to plan for.

I hope things are drying out there!

Pondside said...

Here on the coast, at this time of year, I leave home ready for any kind of weather - rain, sleet, even snow. That works better than worrying about it!
Too bad about Borders - soon only Chapters will be left and we'll never be able to find anything but the most recent 'blockbuster'.

The Weaver of Grass said...

The answers here suggest that the best thing we can all do is ignore the forecast, look out of the window for signs, speak to a countryman or - if all else fails - just get on with life and take whatever weather comes - on the chin.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Reader wil's comment rings true doesn't it. And TFE's is also a saying we have round here - if you can't see Ingleborough it is probably raining - if you can see it it is going to rain.
The best thing is to buy some good wellies and a good strong umbrella and say "who cares what the weather throws at me." There is no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing.

Anonymous said...

Our New England Grey is similar. It can get quite depressing come February. That's when I'de like to become a snowbird.

I'de love to see your beaded horseshoe when you're finished, hope you'll post a pic! They are fun! I've nailed one to the door of the potting shed.

willow said...

I adore Travels With Charley. It's time for another read! Barnes and Noble has more business than Borders in my neck of the woods. I hate to see any book store close it's doors.