Old wives’ tales, folklore, stories and predictions passed down through the years are interesting topics while out on the road. And they can be helpful – if only you believe!
Because I am a native of the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains (literally on the North Carolina/Tennessee line, I do believe (at least some of them). Many call our area hillbilly country, but we all refer to it as God’s country. Not only is it beautiful with all four seasons (yes, the area has several ski resorts and white water rafting), but we have some of the greatest folklore and proven old wives’ tales you’ll find.
Now how does this pertain to helping a truck driver? With several ways! Stay with me because I am fixing to tell you!
Beans in a Jar
Winter time is something we truck drivers dread to see coming and we wish we had a crystal ball to predict how long it is going to last and how bad it is going to be. Well, you’re in luck! Because here in the mountains we count “Beans in a Jar” (coins or buttons can be used too) so we know how many days it’s going to snow each winter! Yes, I am serious and here’s how.
At the same location and time each morning that it is foggy during the month of August you place a dry bean (or coin or button) into a jar. If it is a heavy fog you will put a big bean in, and for light fogs use a smaller bean. We all realize that you have to be home to do this, so for truck drivers like me, I just follow my family’s bean jar. My mama, who just turned 90, has carried this legend down for decades. It’s said bean counting began with the Native Americans – many of whom still reside right over the hill from me.
So if you want to count snowy winter weather, here’s how you do that. On August 31st you go to your bean jar and count how many beans are in it. This is where the sizes differ and it doesn’t tell you anything until it starts to snow. The total number of beans in your jar is the number of snows there will be that winter. You then close up the jar and wait until the first snow. When the first snow comes you then start taking out a bean for each snow and remember it is the size of the bean that will tell you how big of a snow to expect.
The accuracy is pretty impressive. Three years ago, a neighbor found that he had 22 beans in his jar and on my side of the county there were 16 beans in a jar. Our school system averaged about 20 “snow days” that winter.
“Woolly Worm predictions
Another legend is the woolly worm. We’ve all seen those fuzzy little harmless black and brown crawlies that some of us love to play with. Winter is predicted based on where you see your first one. The prediction is that the more black on the woolly’s body will be the length of the coming winter. The one I saw yesterday on my porch was about two-thirds black and one-third brown. We will have to see how accurate that little fella was.
For your information, in 1978 Jim Morton, heir to the 750 million-year-old Grandfather Mountain, began a full weekend each year in Banner Elk, North Carolina hosting the annual Woolly Worm Festival. This year www.woollyworm.com will be celebrating its 45th anniversary. It celebrates the approaching winter by having “Woolly Worm Races.”’ Hundreds of woolly worms are brought from every state that you can imagine. They then compete to be the first to the top of the string and to be winter’s predictor.
After decades of use, the tried and true annual Farmers’ Almanac is something you’ll still find in most households of families here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Everyone still plants gardens, harvests and relies on weather predictions by the good old Farmers’ Almanac.
So for a trucker – or anyone for that matter – old wive’s tales, woolly worms, and the Farmers’ Almanac predictions are the legends’ way to predict how many days we have to deal with the winter weather and possibly how long it will be.
BTW, if you are looking for a winter wonderland, the upcoming winter of 2022-2023 would be a great time to come visit this area! We love snow in the winter up here for the ski slopes that are generally open from November to April. I am rarely home, so I always ask for photos! I love winter in my mountains!
I think I will stay true to my hillbilly roots because honestly, old wives’ tales are still predicting things fairly accurately, and they are here to stay.
Until next time, from me to you … drive safely, be somebody’s smile and don’t forget your prayers!