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JIM: Weather ruminations and the Goosebone Weather Prophesy


'For those who are not up-to-date on such things, prophesying winter weather from the breastbone of a goose is a tried-and-true method used for many a decade by the Pennsylvania Germans, always with perfect satisfaction and without the bother of annoying commercials sandwiched between the introductory blather and the closing bombast of television prognosticators.' -JIM, His own "Auditorium," as some were wont to call the legendary TImes-Journal Editor Andrew Norfleet's opinion pieces.


By "Jim"

Up here north of the Green River, the ground is an unsullied white this fine December morning, and although a bit on the cool side - it certainly wouldn't take a fellow long to get aired out, were he foolish enough to wander away from the comforts of hearth and home and coffeepot - it's nowhere nearly as cold as that frigid day in Columbia nigh onto four-score and thirteen years ago when Mr. E.L. Feese, an employee of the News, reported that "a blue streak of wind passed into his room through a key hole of his door, and when it reached four feet in his apartment, it froze, and could have been used for a walking cane."



All of this flashed through my mind when, upon first casting my rheumy baby blues into the pallid gloom of the overcast, just-past-dawn morn, a blanket of "the beautiful," as snow was called in the days of yore, hove into view, covering most everything in sight (including the garage floor because some nimrod forgot to close the door last night. Oh, alas, alas -- "Of few days and full of trouble," indeed!)

The second thing to pass between my ears was a weather forecast encountered some time ago in the November 27, 1907 Adair County News:

Hard Winter Coming

According to the goosebone there is a hard winter ahead. The earliest prediction of the present year has just been made.

The front part of the top of the breastbone is very dark and near the center it is white for a considerable distance. Beyond this it is dotted, and then comes a long dark streak. The goosebone prophet says:

"According to the breast bone we will have quite cold weather for to [sic] weeks in November. Then there will be a warm spell lasting for a few days. December will be a cold month with an occasional snowstorm. January will be a month of snow, hail and an occasional cold spell.

"The dark colors on the end of the breastbone indicates that February will be a very cold month, and there will be several blizzards. At one particular part of the bone it is very black, which means that we will have lots of snow and sleet. The cold weather will continue into March and we will have a very late spring."


The goosebone was compared with several obtained from other birds killed and they seem to be marked identically.

For those who are not up-to-date on such things, prophesying winter weather from the breastbone of a goose is a tried-and-true method used for many a decade by the Pennsylvania Germans, always with perfect satisfaction and without the bother of annoying commercials sandwiched between the introductory blather and the closing bombast of television prognosticators.

Mr. Elias Hartz, founder of the Goosebone School of Weather Wizardry, had passed in the spring of 1907, only six months before this article appeared. He was 92 years old, and, according to a brief death announcement in the New York Times, had been practicing his craft for nearly seventy years at the time of his departure from this sphere of sorrow.


This story was posted on 2010-12-02 08:36:43
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