“All that nonsense about signs in nature, that’s just old wives’ tales,” the guy at the hardware store said. “You can’t tell nothin’ from looking at the sky and such.”
I grinned to myself. Really, don’t get involved, I thought, as I left.
Predicting the weather by nature is an old wives’ tale because the old wives’ were right. The mare’s tales scattered across the sky, followed by the clouds that look like farmer’s rows are a sign of a change in the weather. They mean a drop in temperature, maybe wind, and that combination often means rain, too.
Yesterday, with a brisk wind sweeping the desert, I noticed old palm fronds falling off palms. Not fun it if hits your car–they are big and hard, but shedding is necessary for the palm to thrive. And wind generally brings cold this time of year.
Today, coming home, I saw an iridescent cloud–ice crystals gathered at higher than 20,000 feet. It will be cold tonight again. The light was red, so I took the photo through my windshield. The color was more intense, but this will be enough to help me remember to put the comforter on the bed.
We’ve gotten away from paying attention to nature, and it’s a shame. There is a lot to be learned my standing outside and looking up at the sky. At night the stars form stories to remember; during the day, you’ll know what weather is coming your way.
And at this time of year, it is not bad to remember stars that pointed to important events. The guy in the hardware store, disparaging old wives, I’ll bet he believes the Christmas story–that a star indicated Jesus’s birth, and called shepherds to attention, guided kings with gifts. Even then, we knew that signs of importance came from nature.
Sometime today, when you are racing through life, look up at the sky. Maybe it has something to tell you. Maybe you have something to say back.
—Quinn McDonald is a naturalist and creativity coach.