My mom's brother, my Uncle Howitt, is in town for a couple of days, and I had dinner with him and my mom on Sunday and hubby joined us for dinner on Monday. We had great conversation about food and customer service and the legal system and how things have changed. He and mom recalled the outhouse they had when they were little, and even after they got indoor plumbing, as kids they'd use the outhouse to avoid catching their momma's eye, because she was likely to put them to work if she saw them.
He told the story of how a reporter from the paper was out visiting him one day, and Pap-pa (what I always called my grandfather) mentioned that they were in for a harsh winter. This was in 1976. The reporter asked how he could possibly know that. Pap-pa showed him the dog's coat and said if the fur doesn't thin out in the spring, it's going to be extra thick for a cold winter. He showed the reporter an anthill that was close to the ground. If it was going to be a mild winter, Pap-pa said, the anthill would be eight inches off the ground, but instead, the ants were digging deep, to be ready for a cold winter. The reporter took it all down and wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about this old country farmer's antiquated ideas about weather forecasting. Come October, though, and an early hard freeze or two and the reporter came back, to do a follow-up story about how accurate the old farmer's predictions had been.
Too often we forget or discount the old ways, but that ancient wisdom came from experience and from having to make do without the internet and live Doppler radar on the 10pm news.