When we moved from L.A. to Paris, Illinois nineteen autumns ago, someone asked me what I thought of the cooler weather months here. Wrapping the third scarf around my neck and adjusting my earmuffs, I said, “I try not to think about them too much.”
Not that spinning off the icy highway into a ditch isn’t my idea of a fun new game. Or that I don’t enjoy drinking seventeen cups of tea a day from September to March—I always did enjoy that burst of energy a strong cup of tea gives. I even discovered a brand of long underwear that are made from silk, so you don’t have to buy clothes two sizes larger than usual. That’s always gratifying.
Did you know there is a surefire way to predict winter weather in the fall? According to early American folklore, you can forecast the harshness of an upcoming winter by examining the brown band around a woolly worm’s middle. The thinner the brownish red band, the harsher winter will be.
But I have my own methods. As we go on a walk up the country lane near our home and I spot a woolly worm scooting across the pavement, I’ll note its coloration. If it’s dark brown or black, representing the bare earth, I predict a mild winter with no snow. If it’s orange—a happy, warm color—I maintain the upcoming winter will be warmer than usual. And if the wooly worm is white or tan, I report that winter will be fast and fun, with snowfall only on Christmas Eve.
Scientific? Hardly. Accurate? Rarely. But my overly biased wooly worm reports make us laugh every time. And giggles help us get through the long, freezing months better than gripes. I imagine even the woolly worms laugh. At me.