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This week, let’s have fun with numbers

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By Cheryl Steenerson

It’s the 12th day of the 12th month, 12 years into the 21st century.
Those who really like numbers, like these. Plus, they’re just fun to write. One-two, one-two, one-two. Flip the one and two around and you’ve got the first day of winter. Oh, I’ve got more.
You may be familiar with the 12 days of Christmas, but have you ever done the 12 days after Christmas? Staple 12 card-size pieces of paper together. Write the dates, starting with Dec. 26 on the first page, continuing on to Jan. 6. Then, write the name of each month of the year on each piece, starting with January on Dec. 26.
Now, keep that little packet of paper handy. Each day, write the weather on the correct date. Weather folklore says the weather during the first 12 days after Christmas indicate what the weather will be like during each of the 12 months for the coming year. When Jan. 7 rolls around you’ll have your very own month-by-month weather prediction for 2013.
I love weather folklore and Benjamin Franklin had some of the best. He loved to write in rhyme, plus he actually studied plants and animals and how they reacted to weather. That’s how we got the “ red sky at night, sailors delight “ types of predictions and so many more.
He published them in Poor Richard’s Almanac, preserving them for centuries to come. Remembering them and passing them on to future generations is a gift that keeps on giving. You don’t even have to wrap them.
Farmers and gardeners are great students of plants and animal behavior. Both of my grandfathers could tell you when it was going to snow or rain, just by watching the animals. The women in the family watched the plants. When those dandelions closed, the clothesline got emptied, and right quick.
Scientific studies have not been done to prove folklore accuracy. There’s no money in it. However, I recently found out that a Racine, Wisc., Farm Service Agency Committee actually kept track of folklore predictions, over several years, to see just how accurate the old adages were when it came to predicting weather. Turns out they were just as accurate as the TV and radio meteorologists, even predicting the first and last frost dates.
So, here are a few, just for you. A ring around the moon, a change very soon. A green Christmas; a white Easter. If there’s thunder during Christmas week, the winter will be anything but meek. If the first snowfall lands on unfrozen ground, the winter will be mild. If there is thunder in winter, it will snow days days later. Frost on the Dec. 21 is said to indicate a severe winter.
Now, please preserve these and more in your memory and pass them on to the next generation of gardeners and farmers. You could even make a Christmas book of old folklore to pass down among the generations. Put the family name on it and make it a family heirloom. No one knows who will be the next gardener in your family, but I’m pretty sure they would treasure a hand written keepsake.
Want more 12’s? After today, there are only 12 more shopping days before Christmas. Oh, cheer up. After Christmas, there are only 12 more weeks until we can plant outdoors. That ought to make you merry. Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.