Pat Shingleton: "Animal Forecasters and Napoleon's Wife..."
Long before the advent of weather forecasts and predictions, people relied on nature for the signs of seasonal change. Folklore suggests that donkeys will hang their ears downward, tilt forward and rub against the wall at the first sign of rain. Fish supposedly rise to the surface and go for bait more actively before a downpour. Some believe that horses will stretch out their necks, sniff the air, pull back their lips and grin just before a shower. Other signs of approaching cold weather include: bulls leading the cows out to pasture, cats sneezing or washing behind their ears, mosquitoes biting more frequently - of course that's year-round for jus - dogs rolling on the ground acting stupid, eating grass and straightening their tails. On August 13, 1766, a powerful hurricane leveled the tiny village of Trois-Islets on the island of Martinique. Joseph-Gaspard Tascher was one of the island's wealthy planters and suffered total financial ruin from the devastating storm. In dire straits, he did what many attempted in those days; marrying their offspring into money. After the storm, his young daughter, Marie Josephine Rose, returned to France and married an army officer, the Vicomte de Beauharnais, who was guillotined in 1794. Two years later she married another officer, with a better head on his shoulders. Her second husband crowned himself in 1804 and she became Empress Josephine of France, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.