“Persimmon seeds,” she said, mysteriously.
I repeated her, making sure I’d heard correctly.
She went on to tell me that her grandfather had shown her how to predict the severity of winter by cutting those seeds in half and looking at the inside of the kernel.
“You’ll find a knife, a fork, or a spoon in there. I saw a knife, so it’s going to be a cold, harsh winter.”
I must have looked skeptical so she said, “Well, if you don’t believe me, google it.”
So, google it, I did.
And I found out she was right. When you cut open a persimmon seed, there is an image of an eating utensil. And people who have tracked this sort of thing actually say it is an accurate predictor of weather.
According to old-timers, when you cut the seed into two pieces, the embryo will display one of three symbols. A knife shape indicates a cold icy winter (where wind will cut through you like a knife). A fork shape indicates a mild winter. And a spoon shape stands for a shovel to dig yourself out of the snow.
Now, I don’t think this will work with persimmons grown in other climes, like Chile or California. Their persimmon seeds probably forecast their own weather. I think you have to get a homegrown variety to see what’s going to be going on in West Georgia. And be careful if you try this at home. The website I was reading cautioned that the persimmon is a very hard seed and you might end up splitting your finger, rather than the seed its self. They suggested you hold the seed with a pair of pliers to protect your hands.
This got me thinking about other weather signs that I’ve always heard. My dental hygienist told me, a couple of months ago, if you have an autumn with lots of acorns dropping, it’s going to be a hard winter. She speculated that was God’s way of making sure his woodland creatures made it through the hungry times. So, while I was googling persimmon seed prognostication today, I looked up acorns too. Turns out there is lots of discussion about it, and the general consensus is “abundant acorn droppage means harsh winter.” Considering the veritable showers of acorns our oak trees have produced this year, it looks like a hard winter is on the way.
The wooly worms said it was going to be a harsh winter too. From childhood, I’ve heard that if their orange belly bands are wide, it means winter will be mild.
“When its belly is brown, no snow will come down.”
But if the bellyband is thin, or non-existant, cold weather is on its way. So, according to my observations of wooly worms this year, we better be stocking up on fuel oil and sweaters.
My granddaddy Garrett used to tell us when the hornets build their nests high in the trees, a mild winter will follow, but when they build them close to the ground, you better make sure you’ve got a big wood pile. And this fall, when all the leaves had dropped, I spied a hornet’s nest built in the weeds, almost touching the ground.
I’ve also heard that squirrels can predict the weather. If they start burying nuts early, we’ve got cold in our future. We have a colony of squirrels that live in the trees behind our house. I’m not a fan of them – they look like rats with fluffy tails to me. But unless I am dedicated to sitting behind the house with a .22 rifle and thinning their ranks, we have to live in close proximity.
Well, this year I noticed they started using my hosta pots for nut storage. They stuffed the pots so full of nuts that they eventually dislodged the hostas and now I have planters full of acorns. This started in August, which is early in the year for that sort of thing.
So, altogether, the signs have been pointing toward a fierce winter. But so far, the signs haven’t been panning out. This winter has been the warmest one on record. For the past few weeks I’ve been seeing people in short sleeves and flip flops, paddling around in the warm rain. I’m beginning to make up my own weather folklore, “warm January means less coats to carry.” And “bloated worms in the road, means a rain overload.”
But I’m not giving up on the persimmon seeds. There are still six weeks left of winter and according to weather reports there’s a cold front heading our way that might bring us snow this weekend. So, maybe the squirrels and hornets are right. I’m keeping my sweaters handy just in case.
Gentry, a Carroll County resident, writes a weekly column for thhe Times-Georgian.