“On cable TV they have a weather channel — twenty-four hours of weather. We had something like that where I grew up. We called it a window.” — Dan Spencer
It is always a good idea to have a way to know the weather next day or better yet, in the next few hours. In the past when there’s no such thing as weather reports, people relied on the signs in their surroundings to foretell the weather.
The use of almanacs as a source of weather-related information dates back to as early as the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians. However, access to almanacs was limited during those times. Almanacs only became popular in the middle of the Renaissance era due to the invention of printing.
Nowadays, we primarily depend on TV weather reports and smartphone weather apps. But there are still people these days who can predict the weather by observing nature. They may not get it right all the time, but weather forecasters are not perfect either.
In 1810, Dr. Edward Jenner was asked by a lady whether it would rain on the following day. In reply to the question, he provided a list of “Signs of Rain” which was later turned into verse by Erasmus Darwin. The verse is as follows:
The hollow winds begin to blow,
The clouds look black, the glass is low,
The soot falls down, the spaniels sleep,
And spiders from their cobwebs peep.
Last night the Sun went pale to bed,
The Moon in halos hid her head.
The boding shepherd heaves a sigh,
For see! a rainbow spans the sky.
The walls are damp, the ditches smell,
Closed is the pink-eyed pimpernel.
Hark! how the chairs and tables crack,
Old Betty’s joints are on the rack;
Her corns with shooting pains torment her
And to her bed untimely send her.
Loud quack the ducks, the peacocks cry,
The distant hills are looking nigh.
How restless are the snorting swine!
The busy flies disturb the kine.
Low o’er the grass the swallow wings,
The cricket too, how sharp he sings!
Puss on the hearth, with velvet paws
Sits wiping o’er her whiskered jaws.
Through the clear stream the fishes rise
And nimbly catch th’ incautious flies.
The glowworms, numerous and bright,
Illumed the dewy dell last night.
At dusk the squalid toad was seen
Hopping and crawling o’er the green.
The whirling dust the wind obeys,
And in the rapid eddy plays.
The frog has changed his yellow vest,
And in a russet coat is dressed,
Though June, the air is cold and still,
The mellow blackbird’s voice is shrill,
My dog, so altered is his taste,
Quits mutton bones on grass to feast.
And see yon rooks, how odd their flight,
They imitate the gliding kite,
And seem precipitate to fall,
As if they felt the piercing ball –
‘Twill surely rain – I see with sorrow,
Our jaunt must be put off tomorrow.