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Neighbors have been telling us that we have a cold winter in store this year. According to them, there are several folklore forecasts that point to freezing weather in a few months.

First, a plentiful crop of berries is an indication that Nature is providing for her creatures before a harsh winter, with plenty to eat in the heat of the summer, and fruit dried on the branches for the winter. We’ve had LOTS of berries growing along the river walk this summer, of glorious hue and variety, on bushes and in trees. The birds are happy, as are the squirrels. I suspect there are enough berries to keep birds, squirrels, bears, and deer content now as they build up their bulk and then, dried on the branches, throughout the long winter months. Forecast: Cold Winter

Another bit of folklore states that when flowers that usually bloom during the spring also have a second bloom in the fall, the you can expect a cold winter. I’ve seen numerous plants and bushes having second blooms, even in our neighbors’ gardens, a more muted version of the spring and summer explosion. Forecast: Cold Winter

Another thing to watch for includes leaves falling off of trees when they are still green. That is a sign of a cold winter to follow. I’ll have to watch for that. Already, here at the end of August, leaves are beginning to turn green. I suspect that Autumn comes early this far north.

Hedge apples are indicators of cold winters if they fall in the late autumn. Gotta find some hedge apples and keep an eye on them. Can anyone tell me what to look for? I’ve never heard of the things!

Finally, weeds growing taller than usual are another sign. Well, I can hide in the weeds in the fields by the river walk, so I’d say that’s a sign of impending cold. (Yes, smart-asses of my acquaintance, I heard your comments on how easily I could  hide behind a fire hydrant.) In fact, the weeds are so tall that we are joining a crew from our neighborhood in pulling them from the common area by the river this weekend. Forecast: Cold Winter

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The online version of the Old Farmer’s Almanac seems to agree with the folklore forecast.

Annual Weather Summary: November 2016 to October 2017

Winter will be colder than normal, with the coldest periods in early and mid-December and early and mid-January, from late January into early February, and in mid- and late February. Precipitation will be below normal in the east and above in the west, with snowfall a bit below normal in Manitoba and central Saskatchewan and above normal elsewhere. The snowiest periods will be in mid-December, early January, mid- and late February, mid- to late March, and mid-April.

April and May will be warmer and slightly drier than normal.

Summer will be rainier and slightly cooler than normal, with the hottest periods from late July into early August and in mid- to late August.

September and October will be cooler and drier than normal.

I am inordinately pleased about this prospect. After all, that was one of the attractions of getting assigned here: for the first time in our married life, not only would we experience four distinct seasons, but we would also get to experience a real, wild North winter! I know that my excitement is due to the fact that I haven’t lived in winter since I was a child, and that I might grow to dread it if I am here long enough. But, in the meantime, ““What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America