|By Mrs. Frank Rundell, Sr.|
As time goes on, the old natural methods of foretelling the weather get more and more impossible. The signs upon which the “setters” in Palmer & Sawyers and William Higgins’ stores at Spencertown depended on for prophesying what we might expect for the coming winter are gone.
|The thickness of the burrs on the nuts once foretold the severity of the winter, but the hickory and chestnut trees that once grew along stone walls and in fields are no more.|
Turkeys, too, were watched for signs of the weather. It was noted…did they roost on a fence rail or, indicating deep snow, high in a tree. Today they live in a wire cage, their natural instincts bred out of them so they’re just plain dumb.
The farmer of today with his corn harvester pays no attention to the thickness of the corn husks or whether or not they completely cover the tip end of the cob. The farmer of yesterday who sat in the field husking his corn by hand knew about this unfailing prediction.
There are only four natural ways left to predict the weather. Watch the cows in the pasture; note the way they face as they usually head into the wind. If they face south, it usually means rain, but if they face north it could mean cooler and clear weather. Observe the chipmunk and see how he carries his tail. If it’s low, it is said to mean a light winter, but if it sticks up straight in the air it could mean a deep snow. Keep an eye on the direction of the wind during a line storm and if those furry caterpillars are very dark in color it indicates we’re in for a rough winter.
Gone these many years, however, are three of Spencertown’s weather predictors, who were better than today’s forecasters. Tam and Hen Dean, along with Thede Chace, were experts. Young folks never even made plans for a picnic unless they first asked one of these men.
Mrs. Rundell wrote a column for The Chatham Courier, focused on life in Spencertown, from the 1940’s through 1972. Reprinted from the book of her collected columns, And So It Was: Yesteryear in the Punsit Valley, Griswold Publishing, 1993. A very special thank you to Jim Rundell for his generous donations to the society.
|We were looking for some natural autumn decorations and came across the idea of waxed leaves! It is very inexpensive, easy to do, and looks beautiful. The leaves will keep their color and shape throughout the season. Here we have a simple arrangement in the Morey-Devereaux House.|
Autumn leaves with stems, in a variety of shapes and colors;
Paraffin wax (available where canning supplies are sold: grocery stores, hardware stores);
A double boiler (a pot within a pot) or a mini crock pot will do the trick;
Waxed or parchment paper to dry the leaves on.
|We improvised the above double boiler using a pouring pot within a larger pot. Place a few inches of water in the outer pot and place several blocks of paraffin wax in the inner pot. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to low so that the wax slowly melts. (If using a mini crock pot, place the wax directly in the pot.) When all the wax is melted turn the heat to warm.|
While waiting for your wax to melt, place enough sheets of wax or parchment paper on a nearby counter to set your drying leaves.
Once all the wax is ready, take a single leaf by the stem and gently lower the leaf into the melted wax. Be careful, the wax is very hot. This is why we prefer leaves with long stems! A single dip is generally enough to coat the entire leaf. Raise the leaf, and let the excess wax drip into the pot. Place the leaf on your paper.
|The leaves will dry in about two minutes and are then ready for whatever decorating you have in mind.|
|While we are unable to hold any large holiday gatherings this year, we are planning to turn our shop into a Holiday Shop for one weekend (date to be announced shortly).If you are an artist or a bit crafty, and like to make holiday decorations, we welcome donations of handmade Christmas and Hanukkah ornaments and decorative items (jewelry too) for sale in the shop. All proceeds benefit Old Austerlitz and the Austerlitz Historical Society.Please contact Jeff at [email protected]|
GOT OLD SHEETS?
|We are collecting old sheets (flat sheets, not fitted) to cover exhibit spaces and furniture for the winter months. If you have any to donate, please email Jeff at [email protected] to arrange a drop off time.|
If you order from Amazon you can use smile.amazon.com instead (with your same password) and a percentage of your purchase cost will be donated to AHS.
Signing up for AmazonSmile is simple:Go to smile.amazon.com and login with your existing Amazon account, if you have an account Amazon will immediately call you with a verification code, so have a pen ready;Once logged in, scroll down and type ‘Austerlitz Historical Society’ in the box and click ‘search’;Click ‘select’ to choose the Austerlitz Historical Society;Check the box acknowledging that you must visit smile.amazon.com each time you shop in order to support the Austerlitz Historical Society and click ‘Start Shopping’.