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]Here come six months of misery. I'm not ready.
* 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]
You have been warned.