Granny knew: It’s Easter, time for a cold snap

Published 3:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2016

My granny could talk warts off of folks. Mary Alice said that was on account of she was a witch. I thought on that and decided that Mary Alice was right because my granny always had her pocketbook locked on her arm. Every time I tired to look in her pocketbook, she would clamp her elbow down on it and say, “Mum-mu!” Mary Alice said my granny had poisons, buzzard wings and other witch’s things in her pocketbook. That was why she wouldn’t let me look in it.

Mama said my granny wasn’t a witch; she just believed in old wives’ tales.

Aunt Floreen said my granny had talked a wart off her when they were little girls. She said my granny would take a warty person in a dark room, close the door and start talking. When she talked out, they would come out of the dark room and, in a day or two, the person’s wart would fall right off. If you told anybody what my granny said to talk the wart off, it would come back on and on the end of your nose.

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I wanted my granny to talk a wart off me but I could never get one. I spent half of my young life around the fishpond and in the woods, catching pond frogs and toad frogs and rubbing them on arms and feet in hopes of getting a wart. I never did so I can’t say for sure that my granny could talk warts off but I can say for sure that she was a weather forecaster. She went by old wives tales, Mama said.

My granny could smell bad weather. She would stick her head out of the screen door, take a deep breath and exhale gloom and doom.

“Bad weather’s on the way. It’s in the air, I can smell it.”

And, when she forecasted bad weather, Mama would go all to pieces. She was scared to death of bad weather. She would pace the floor, going for window-to-window and peeping out the door to see bad weather coming.

Daddy said my granny took pleasure is upsetting Mama. If he was right, then my granny got a lot of pleasure.

My granny got her weather report from the way bees buzzed, skunks sprayed and owls hooted. But mostly from peculiar-acting dogs.

“I reckon y’all heard William’s dog yelping all night,” she would say. “It’s going to be bad weather as sure as I’m setting here.”

Daddy would laugh and say that she would be “setting there” only until he could call the Greyhound bus to come take her home.

My granny said dogs are right-sided. When a dog starts acting peculiar – favoring its left side — there a storm brewing somewhere. If a dog chased its tail to the left, a terrible lighting storm was in the makings. And, if a hungry dog buried a bone, a frog strangler was coming for sure.

My granny said if buzzards started circling to the left, a cyclone was brewing and, if cats’ fur started to bristle, lightning was about to strike nearby.

She had a lot of other way of predicting bad weather and she also knew ways to call it up. If you hung a dead snake belly up on a wire fence, it would rain the very next day. You could also bring rain by burying a dead frog with its belly up and stop a flood by hanging a buzzard upside down in the fork of an old oak tree.

What got me thinking about my granny and, as James Thurber would say, her many harbors was the weather forecast for this weekend – cooler temperatures and, perhaps a chance of frost.

I can’t vouch for my granny’s weather predictions except for the cat thing, but I can say for near certainty that she was dead on about a cold snap coming right before Easter.

“There will be a cold snap right before Easter as sure as I’m settin’ here,” my granny would say.

Daddy would look out the window for the Greyhound bus but none was ever in sight. So, there set my granny.

So, we’d get our sweaters out. The Easter cold snap was coming.