Pat Shingleton: "Chirping Crickets and Sayings..."
Just 19 days of winter left, then the swallows will return to Capistrano, CA., the buzzards will arrive in Hinckley, Ohio, and the purple martins will visit Baton Rouge. In western Pennsylvania, we awaited the red-red robin. As we look for the signs of Spring and the chirp of birds, the crickets may join in the chorus. Some folks are sure they can tell the temperature by counting the number of times a cricket chirps. Crickets in our area chirp 72 times per minute at 60 degrees F. For every additional four chirps, add a degree to the 60, subtract a degree for every four chirps less than 60. You may also count the number of chirps in 14 seconds and add 40. Sometimes the chirping may involve dozens of crickets, so you'll run into difficulty picking out a single cricket's "voice" within the melody of chirps. Please let me know if this works. Of greater interest, familiar weather expressions include “frog stranglers” and “gully washers” for heavy showers. Another reference to flooding rain is the adage, “It’s gonna come a stump-floater and a gully washer.” Our ancestors may have referred to an approaching episode of rain with, “It’s comin’ up a cloud!” The mention, “It’s raining pitchforks and plow handles,” meant extremely hard rain. A comment to thunder may have found folks saying, “God’s tater wagon turned over!” or “The angels are bowling…” A more familiar verse for windy weather is, “It was blowing to beat the band.” “She is batting her eyes like a frog in a hail storm,” has dual meanings: She is trying hard to stay awake or she’s flirting. “The Devil’s getting married,” references a shining sun and simultaneous rain.