Monday, November 03, 2008

Mountain lore and winter forecasts...

Up in the nooks and crannies of Haywood County (NC) lives Chuck Baker, a country and mountain man that just knows lots of 'stuff'. He also does superior construction work, but not from some textbook...his knowledge comes from a life of hands-on experience and the ability to think ahead of the curve. He's practical. He's frugal. He works hard. He's a man of his word.

The very scene above was coated in some snow last week...NWS reports came in of 3" in Cruso, 2" in Canton, and less than an inch at Lake Junaluska, all Haywood County locations. I spoke briefly with Chuck the other day and he assured me he went out and walked barefoot in the snow.

Yep. Barefoot in the snow.

While I've heard a lot of mountain lore, that one was a first for me. The story goes that when there is the first measurable snow of t
he year, you should go out and walk barefoot in it so as to boost your immune system for that winter. Won't work on the second snow....has to be the first.

He went on to say that in the past 7 years he walked b
arefoot in the first snow in only 5 years, and that for the other two years he failed to do it he developed severe colds and sinus infections in January. In one of those sickly winters he had walked barefoot in the snow, but in the second snow, not the first.

Even I have noticed the unusually healthy, heavy acorn crop this fall, which is an oft told sign of a hard winter
ahead. And yet Chuck said his 3 heavy-coated pups had not started to grow in their winter coats, which (he said) suggests a milder winter. Lots of bee and yellow jacket activity into November, another sign (he said) suggesting a milder winter.

Now that I think about it, I never did blog on the recent 2008 Woolly Worm competition in Boone this past October 18...this year's winner was Kelly, a, uh, pet of Kurstin Hartsell from Ansonville. And the winner's prediction? Keep in mind this is technically for the mountains of western NC. Still, it gets a little particular...

First 4 weeks: cold and snowy

Weeks 5-7:
seasonably cold

Weeks 8-10:
cold and snowy

Week 11:
bitterly cold

Weeks 12-13:
cold and snowy

Overall, ol' Kelly says get out your wooly jumpers wax up the sled runners...

From my time in South Dakota I still have my deep winter SnowPac boots that I never could sell to anyone. Just maybe there was a good reason I'm still holding on to them...???!!!

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