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Nature is amazing. Grandma believed that if you looked closely enough, you could find all sorts of signs of changing weather conditions. When it came to short-term forecasting, Grandma had the magic touch. For long-term or seasonal predictions, she often turned to the trees for guidance - especially as fall rolled over to winter.
It’s encouraging to see others noticing and questioning nature. I recently received this email from Joan Spicer:
“Hi Cindy: I read your column daily, love your pics and posts. Just wondering if a holly bush with many berries is an indication of a harsh winter or is it an old wives tale? Joan Spicer, Cole Harbour. What would grandma say…"
Well, this might not make me or Grandma very popular, but Grandma believed that if any tree or shrub was bearing an abundance of fruit in the fall, winter would be severe.
One of Grandma’s go-tos was the mountain ash. She believed that a heavy crop of berries pointed to lots of snow and high winds. Perhaps you’ve heard this before: "the more berries on a mountain ash tree, the more severe winter will be".
I’ve not been able to find a correlation between an abundance of berries and a harsh winter. The production of nuts and berries is more an indicator of past weather than future weather. Bumper crops - known as mast cycles - occur every two to five years. They are not completely understood so I’m not ready to discount a correlation. After all, weather folklore surrounding this fruitful tree is undeniable and Grandma would remind me not to question hundreds of years of careful observation.
The next time you’re out for a stroll, look around and let me know what the trees in your area are telling you. I can tell you that I have never seen so many acorns in my back yard. Before you rush out to buy a snow-blower, I've learned that one huge oak tree can drop up to 10,000 acorns in a mast year.
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Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network