18 October 2011

A small, tiny herald of great doom...and verifications

Prior to my visit to Paradise (i.e., Hawai'i), I tolerated winter; since those first few minutes after exiting the plane at the Honolulu International Airport, I have despised winter.  This is no secret.  Already my gloves are out and I may pull out a scarf this evening.

It may be wimpy, but so be it.  I hate winter.

It is against this backdrop that a sight outside the back door of the cathedral rectory yesterday made me ill at ease: a woolly caterpillar.  A black, all black caterpillar.

I saw him - or her - again today, still all black.

Thinking back to my childhood days and those we learned, I couldn't quite remember what a black woolly caterpillar was to portend, but I didn't think it was good.  This afternoon I did a little hunting and was able to confirm what my bones have for weeks been telling me.

For some time now I have suspected - and felt in my joints - that this coming winter will be worse than last winter.  Some of you may be skeptical on this, but this is more than a hunch.

Anyway, the legend, if you will, of the woolly caterpillar says that the wider the brown strip the milder winter will be.  The caterpillar is all black...  He is a herald of great doom.

There are also additional signs that point toward a harsh winter.  The Farmers' Almanac lists several factors that foretell winter conditions [with my comments]:
* Very thick onion skins or corn husks [I'm not sure about these]

* Woodpeckers sharing a tree [I don't see a lot of woodpeckers in the city]

* Early arrival of crickets on the hearth [I don't have a hearth]

* Spiders spinning larger webs [I'm told they are]

* Lots and lots of acorns [we have oak trees at the Pastoral Center, and there are lots of acorns]

* Raccoons have thick tails [I've seen a lot of dead raccoons lately on the streets and highways, but I haven't paid attention to their tails]

* Squirrels gather nuts early in the year [they've been busy this year]

* Pigs gather sticks [I don't know about this one, but I've just recently finished re-reading Lloyd Alexander's Prydain chronicles so pigs have been on my mind]

* Frequent halos around the sun or moon [I haven't noticed this, but I haven't been looking]

* Heavy and numerous fogs in August [I remember these with little fondness]
Here come six months of misery.  I'm not ready.

You have been warned.


  1. I am assuming this explains my flu-like muscle and joint aches lately, huh?

  2. You have me laughing here, Father! (And saving my spare change for higher heating bills...) I agree on the squirrel front -- never have I seen so many squirrels madly gathering foodstuffs. They're really lucky, too, that my car has good brakes.

  3. They seem more bold with cheeks full of nuts, don't they?