In a world filled with advancements in science, technology, education, and medicine, you may wonder why people still subscribe to the idea of folklore. We live in a time where we can order food from our smartphones without having to leave the comforts of home, and getting updates on world news and events takes a matter of seconds. We even have weather apps on our phones that tell us the forecast, so why is it still important to know if persimmon seeds, an abundance of acorns, or woolly worm caterpillars can predict the weather?
Folklore Connects Us
If you consider yourself a nay-sayer of folklore because it no longer seems relevant in today’s world, you may be discounting an important connection to our past.
Everyone has the same experiences, yet everyone responds differently to them. Hunger and pain. Hot and cold weather. Joy and sorrow. Our reactions to these events may vary, but all of these things are unavoidable. Folklore gives us the wisdom to understand these moments from different points of view. It showcases that all of our problems and successes happen in every culture and throughout different periods of history. We are unique as individuals, but we are all connected through these moral truths.
A Unique Perception
We often associate folklore with stories or sayings we’ve heard as children. Perhaps from a relative, a book a teacher read to the class, or perhaps through the many weather lore sayings shared by the Farmer’s Almanac. While a lot of these tales are easy enough for children to understand, the same story can resonate with us in different ways throughout our lives, offering different meanings at different ages and levels of development.
For example, the folklore surrounding the concept of the “fairy ring,” where mushrooms grow in a circular pattern. There are different tales surrounding this bit of folklore because it’s been interpreted differently over the centuries. Some say it’s good fortune to find a fairy ring; others say it’s a sign of evil in an area. If a child heard this tale, he might believe in the magic of fairies. If a teenager hears it, she might get interested in botany due to the curiosity of it, while an adult might hear this tale and find magic in their lives again.
Folklore Sayings Ring True
It’s also worth mentioning that the power of observation is an element that makes folklore thrive. For example, an ancient mariner initially might have noticed that when clouds look like scales of a fish, precipitation is on its way but will be gone quickly, hence the folklore saying:
If mariners spotted this cloud pattern, they began to notice they could expect rain, but it wouldn’t last long (“never long wet”). Over time word of this observation spread. The result is a folklore rhyme we are familiar with, one that’s easy to remember. A rhyme helps it travel better without getting misinterpreted.
Science now tells us that when puffy cirrocumulus and altocumulus clouds appear in the sky, they usually accompany high pressure, which indicates rain is coming, but the weather system will be moving along quickly.
Folklore, tales, and sayings have been around long before science could articulate it further, so listening to the tales told from family member to family member might prove valuable, even in today’s world, if you take the time to listen.
Larry Fleury is a writer and outdoor photographer who has a background in atmospheric science, marketing, astrophotography, creative writing, and all things outdoors. His photography has been featured by The Weather Channel, Midwest Living Magazine, and National Geographic Your Shot. Larry lives on the edge of the Ozark Mountain Range in Southeast Kansas, where he spends his free time fishing, camping, hunting, hiking, storm chasing, and playing guitar on the porch.