Lately, we have had a lot of wild weather — not only to experience ourselves, but to hear about and see on television only a few hundred miles from here.
Therefore, it’s appropriate to review two quite different books about weather recently published.
Grandma Says by Cindy Day, a well-known meteorologist who appears on CTV Atlantic, is one of these books. It’s published by Nimbus and costs $19.95.
The other book is called The Discovery of Weather, subtitled Stephen Saxby, the Tumultuous Birth of Weather forecasting, and Saxby’s gale of 1869. This book is by Jerry Lockett and is published by Formac at $29.95.
Both books are excellent and complement one another.
Grandma Says is an unusual book to say the least. It’s a collection of sayings about the weather collected from Day’s grandmother and then interpreted by the latter in her capacity as a professional meteorologist.
As Day was brought up on a farm in Ontario with her grandmother close at hand, many of the sayings are in slightly different form from what we are used to, but they all are easily recognizable.
A large number of these sayings, such as “It’s not snow, it’s poor man’s fertilizer”, “Aches and pains, coming rains” and “When seagulls gather over land, a change of weather is close at hand” have scientific explanations.
Even more unlikely ones, such as a cat washing behind her ears being a sign of rain can now be explained. (It’s a question of changes in air pressure.)
This little book is fun to read, and a great reference. No home should be without it.
The Discovery of Weather lies between history, science and biography.
The first half of the book
traces the evolution of weather forecasting from the mid-18th century with Benjamin Franklin through the many more or less truthful almanacs to the careful observers of weather patterns, among them William Redfield and James Espy.
There are also many details of Saxby’s varied career. It is ironic that his most famous weather forecast was seriously wrong; the great storm he predicted took place, not around Britain, but along the east coast of North America.
The second half of this book describes the Saxby Gale of 1869, as it has been known ever since, in great detail.
Enough said; read about it yourself; it’s scary and may well happen again.
Elizabeth Cran is a freelance writer who writes a book review column for The Guardian. To comment or to send her books to review, write her at 111 Sydney St., Apt. 17, Saint John, N.B., E2L 2L8, or call her at 506-693-5498.