Appalachian Fall

— Written By Teresa Goley

Once again I am reminded why this is my favorite time of the year. It is still early to be claiming that fall is here, but temperatures dipping into the 50s excites me none the less.

This was an important time for our Mountain ancestors. While Spring was the time for opening up the house and washing everything, bottom to top, and inside out, Summer was spent planting crops for the family’s consumption. Winter was often spent catching up on fireside chores such as basket weaving, sewing and mending, and knitting warm sweaters to help shield us from the cold weather. Fall was the traditional harvest time. And more importantly, the Old Farmer’s Almanac came out the first week of September. Of course, the Farmer’s Almanac was a trusted reference for all rural families. It can still be found today in a modern version- on the internet! As I was driving through a thick fog on the way to work, I smiled. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting “frigid temperatures and hefty snowfalls affecting a majority of the country” for the 2019-2020 winter. The Almanac reminded folks that this prediction should be taken with a grain of salt. However, it did point out that there are 20 folklore signs that a rough winter is coming and number 7 on the list was “Heavy and Numerous Fogs During August.” I was familiar with the size of the orange band on the wooly worm caterpillar being a cold weather indicator. However, there are many of the 20 indicators that are new to me. For Example, have you ever heard that “how high the hornet nest, twill tell how high the snow will rest.” I will now be on he lookout for hornet nests! Also, “Ants marching in a line rather than meandering, and pigs gathering sticks, also signs of a hard winter. For the complete list, go to your computer and type: Old Farmer’s Almanac 2020 Winter Forecast

While it may not be totally accurate, it is definitely entertaining! “The Old Farmer’s Almanac is a reference book containing weather forecastsplanting charts, astronomical data, recipes, and articles. Topics include: gardening, sports, astronomy, and folklore. The Almanac also features sections that predict trends in fashion, food, home, technology, and living for the coming year.

Released the first Tuesday in the September that precedes the year printed on its cover, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been published continuously since 1792, making it the oldest continuously published periodical in North America.”

Another interesting Appalachian fun fact is using the “signs” to guide ventures such as gardening, canning and even dental work! The signs of the Zodiac were once important information for Appalachian families. Many believed that success or failure could be predicted according to the “signs.” According to The Blind Pig and the Acorn, “Our families agree-the Zodiac Sign should be in the head for the best results when pickling or fermenting-and you can still have success as long as the sign is above the heart-but never ever below the heart or all your hard work will be for naught cause the produce will rot-or never pickle. But other folks see it totally different.”

The Blind Pig and the Acorn is a web site dedicated to the preservation of Appalachian culture. If we do indeed have a “polar coaster” winter, I think that the Pig and the Acorn will be perfect fireside reading entertainment!