Squaw Winter

My plan for my next post was to share photos from a quick afternoon bike trip David and I made around the mountain just two afternoons ago, but that now seems so very long ago. We were having perfect autumn weather that afternoon. Now we are having what my mother would deem “Squaw Winter.” She claimed Indian Summer does not happen until after Squaw Winter, no matter how beautiful the weather would be — if Squaw Winter hadn’t already happened, then it surely wasn’t Indian Summer. So the other day was not Indian Summer… that is yet to come.

Tonight the wind whistles around the corners of the house, and we have turned our heat on for the first time this season. It used to be that we could feel that wind come right through the windows, but now those leaky, rattly windows have been replaced, thank goodness. Still, a blanket around me feels pretty cozy.

Both my parents had weather sayings that I’ve never heard elsewhere. Besides the one I mentioned in the last post about rain before seven, it’ll stop before eleven, my parents often cited the one about red sky at night is a sailor’s delight and red sky in the morning is a sailor’s warning. Dad also had an uncanny ability to know when to tap trees in the spring. He used the Farmer’s Almanac for predicting just when would be good. One of the factors was whether Easter came late that year. If so, Dad was more cautious. If we tapped too early, there could be another hard freeze, which meant the seams on the buckets could burst if they were full of sap and froze, then thawed. One year Dad gave in to promptings from the rest of us when the weather turned beautiful and we knew the sap was running.  We all paid for that mistake when we had to haul 900 buckets of frozen sap into the sugarhouse to thaw and empty.

My mother claimed that winter does not set in until all the creeks and rivers are full. I have been observing that since I was a child, and I would say that is right on. It’s rather hard to imagine that these sayings can be true everywhere, but they are, at least in the places I’ve lived. My mother also claimed that it will always rain on Good Friday, even of only a few sprinkles. I used to wonder as a child how that can be true all over the world. Mom claimed it was nature’s way of grieving for Jesus’s crucifixion.  Some of her beliefs (which was typical in the Amish) were rather superstitious. I cannot imagine that this could be true, especially in all the deserts of the world.

I find weather sayings fascinating. They are a remnant of a bygone era when people lived an agrarian lifestyle and needed to be able to predict the weather somehow. Nowadays we have the forecasts, which seem to have replaced all need of these old sayings.

Do you know of any weather sayings? What are they?

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9 thoughts on “Squaw Winter”

  1. Hi Saloma –

    I’ve heard the sailor saying, but not the others. I wonder where it originated. Perhaps an Internet search might be in order.

    The Squaw Winter is in full swing where I live. I’ll be happy to see Indian Summer. :)


  2. I just heard a new one last week or earlier this week. My Amish neighbor looked at the moon and said, “It is going to get hot, dangerously hot.” I asked him why and he said the moon is heading south, like hanging in the southern sky. This time he was wrong unless we have a different perspectives of what a hot day is.

  3. Yes, how about “If onion skins are very thin, then winter’s mild when coming in, but if onion skins are thick and tough, winter comes in cold and rough.” There was a lot of talk last year about thick onion skins, and we did have a cold winter with more snow than average. Makes you think!

  4. You are bringing back some of my own mom’s sayings (she was not Amish nor of Amish heritage, but did grow up on a farm in central NJ) … a farmer is a farmer, I’m pretty sure! Mom used to say if the snow came from the west, it wouldn’t last very long. She was most always right. When we were having a snow storm, if the direction of the snow changed from north/east to west, she would say the storm was almost over; and it was :-) much to the displeasure of this sled happy school girl! She could also tell if it was going to rain/snow by the fragarance of the air .. I can, too, and remember amazing my college friends! We can tell by the way the sun looks if we are in for a storm. The first chorus of Katydids in the summer annoucned 6 weeks til frost.

  5. Monica, I love the onion skins saying. And you know, it makes perfect sense. I think our ancestors learned to read the signs in nature, and now we are losing the ability to observe such things as we become accustomed to listening to the weather forecasts.

    Peggy, Thank you for all the new sayings (new to me). These are exactly the kinds of things I was hoping to hear from people.

    Katie, it is interesting about the moon moving to the south. I wonder if the Amish man was referring to dangerously hot, as in hot weather, or do you think he was thinking of apocalyptic kind of dangerously hot? (Maybe the Amish in your home community were not as into making those sorts of “predictions” as the one I came from, but that sort of thing was not uncommon.

    Susan, you are not the only one who looks forward to Indian Summer. And let’s hope that my mother’s saying isn’t wrong this year!

    Thank you all for contributing to this dialog about weather sayings. I love this kind of thing!

    Warm regards,

  6. Rain before seven, clear before eleven and red at night sailor’s delight, red in the morning, sailor’s take warning were two weather related sayings I frequently heard growing up.

    Then there was the one about wooly bear caterpillars-mostly brown meant a milder winter and mostly black meant we were in for a bad winter.

    There were others, but I can’t think of them right now.
    Nancy–catching up with your many blog posts

  7. My grandmother said (in Pennsylvania Dutch, of course), A sunshiny shower won’t last half an hour.
    And, Fluffy snow is pretty but it’s the fine snow that sticks. Remember, the loud child is noticed but the quiet (one) gets things done.
    And, A winter thunderstorm brings bad cold; thunderstorm in summer brings hot.

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