Mackerel Skies and Mares’ Tails

Mackerel sky over Lincolnshire, England.

Mackerel sky over Lincolnshire, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is my column for the newspaper this week:

The weather seems to be a healthy topic of conversation lately in that most of us are questioning why we are only having spring-like weather instead of full-on spring. And today the weatherman said that it is more like February 1st than April 1st as it is only going up to 39 degrees Fahrenheit or what it is in Celsius—4 degrees?

I am going to be a bit of a devil’s advocate here, and say that while I am tired of donning coats and gloves, I have not needed boots or hats too much lately—and the big news is that I have been known to leave the gloves behind for short sojourns. And that is a first sign of the things to come. Over the weekend I wore spring coats and sweaters, but as the evening came on, I did shiver me timbers.

My husband, John, who loves, loves, loves Lee Valley Tools got to visit their London store on Thursday when he went to pick our youngest son, Tyler, up from college for the Easter weekend.  Tyler was not quite ready when his dad pulled into his driveway so he sent his father off happily to Lee Valley to give him more time to pack. Well, about an hour after sending his Dad off, Tyler called me, and lamented that he had sent his dad to his favourite store to kill some time, and he was not back yet. Big surprise! I have been to Lee Valley and Lowe’s and some other stores of that ilk with John, and I know what waiting is all about. What that man finds so fascinating at these stores totally eludes me, but that is fodder for another column.

While he was at Lee Valley he picked up a little pamphlet called ‘Weather: An Introduction to Clouds, Storms and Weather Patterns”. (See how I am coming back to the original topic at hand?) Now, on the surface this sounded a little too much like grade 6 geography class where we had to learn the names of the different clouds and air masses, and other things that are good to know, but boring to an eleven year old. There is a page in this multipage pamphlet that I found, while not exactly captivating, quite interesting. It listed several facts of weather lore, and what those traditional sayings mean. Some I had heard before, but many were new to me. See how many you are familiar with, and if you knew just exactly what the phrase really meant:

“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor take warning”. The explanation is that red sunsets are usually followed by dry nights. A red morning sky means rain is on the way. Now I knew this one as my husband likes to scuba dive, so this knowledge is pretty important if you are going to be out on the lakes.

“A sun-shiny shower, won’t last half an hour.” This apparently means that showers that happen while the sun shines are brief. Who knew?

“Mackerel sky and mares’ tails make tall ships carry low sails.” Never heard this one before, nor do I think I could decipher it—but it means that certain clouds are often followed by high winds. A mackerel sky and mares’ tails—does that mean that the clouds are shaped like fish and tails? This one is a little too opaque for me.

“Christmas on the balcony means Easter in the embers.” I like this one, but not necessarily its meaning, which is that if you have a warm Christmas, Easter will be cold.

“Squirrel’s tail fluffy, winter will be blustery.” This one is self-explanatory—even I got it. Another self-explanatory one is this: “Onion’s skin very thin, mild winter coming in. Onion skin’s thick and tough, coming winter cold and rough.” And still another that does not take a rocket scientist to understand it: “No weather is ill, if the wind be still.” Well, duh.

“A coming storm your shooting corns presage, and aches will throb, your hollow tooth will rage.” This sounds rather menacing—the explanation provided says that bad weather is brought on by a drop in atmospheric pressure; this can cause blood vessels to dilate, which aggravates sensitive nerves near irritated body parts.

And last, but not least: “When halo rings the moon or sun, rain’s approaching on the run.” Apparently halos around the sun or moon are caused by light reflecting off high altitude clouds of air crystals; this in turn is, is a precursor of rain at lower altitudes. Okay then, that is clear as mud.

There will be a test on these terms, so study up.  And don’t say I never taught you anything.

Bliss is learning now what I should have learned when I was 11. What do you think?

Three Years Ago Today

English: Entrance to St. Augustine's Church un...

Snow Day: One Tree Hill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three years ago today: It was a Monday. There was a rain snow mix, and the roads were bad so no buses were running. How do I know this? Just ran across my daybook/calendar for 2010, and from the notes I made that day I am getting a sense that time moves on in some ways, and not in others.

It moves on in that in 2013 the fact that whether or not the buses are running for school is no longer an immediate issue in my life as both of my sons are now out of high school. One is at college, the other is in a rock band just waiting for his big break.

I had a council meeting penned in for that Monday night, February 22nd, 2010. Things have stayed the same on that front as I have a council meeting on the Monday coming up.I noted that the meeting was only an hour and a half long. That no longer happens, as the municipality has eliminated one meeting a month, so now the two meetings on the second and fourth Mondays run at least three hours. That is a lot of doodling!

I was working for a magazine at the time, as I notice a reminder telling me to write up the articles due for Our Homes. I no longer work at the magazine. It is a choice I made that I sometimes regret (miss the money) but mostly do not.

For some reason I did not make a note to write my column and write up council news for the newspaper. Maybe for once I did it ahead of time. But that is doubtful—I usually work to deadline and that means writing my heart out on Monday morning.

I made note of where my husband was working that day (as a contractor he works at a variety of places) and that my eldest son was at work. At the time he worked in the printing press of the newspaper that I write for. (Yeah, yeah, I know I am not supposed to end a sentence like this—don’t bug me Robin!) Times change–as he no longer works there.

I am supposed to call Salisbury—but I think that is a note for my husband as I do not remember who Salisbury is. I also have a note to  email Charlene. Charlene is in my Writers’ Group so I was probably supposed to tell her when the next meeting was, or the prompt we were supposed use for our writing for the meeting. Hard to say three years down the road.

So that was my day three years ago—which proves that some things change and some things stay the same. The weather today is very much like it was three years ago, except we are getting inundated with snow right now, and the mix is coming this afternoon.

And since I have to work in BLISS, as it is the topic of the year—I find it very blissful that I do not have a council meeting tonight—as the weather looks foreboding. The good thing is–I no longer have to worry about whether the buses are running or not.

So what are you finding blissful today?