Driving back home from town Monday, my pulse quickened just a bit. Why? A yellow butterfly slowly flitted across the road in front of me.
Half a mile further down the road, a quickening of the pulse again as another yellow butterfly drifted across.
Why get excited about seeing a yellow butterfly? I’ll explain later.
We have been living with oppressive heat and drought for weeks upon weeks now. In fact, my rain gauge total for the entire month of September measures a paltry .67 inch; that’s less than three-quarters of an inch… or the whole month.
One thing that has been creeping into my realm of consciousness is that as I write this on Monday, the calendar shows Saturday, October 5 as a special day for me. Since as a youngster tagging along with my dad as he greeted opening day of squirrel season, this has become a tradition and I could count on one hand the times I have missed being in the woods on opening day.
I have been hanging close to TV weather reports and from what I have been able to determine, opening day of squirrel season this year will be like the entire month of September has been…hot and dry.
I have a friend Neil Shaw, a meteorologist who reports weather for KTBS Channel 3 in Shreveport and I gave him a call to see if he could tell me something…anything…to give me hope for opening day.
“We need a good arctic front to bring moisture and cooler weather but unfortunately, we’re not going to get it in time for opening day. There should be a little cool down Thursday or Friday that could bring some light showers with it but with it so dry, it will soak right in and won’t do much to break the dry spell,” said Shaw.
Explaining the weather situation from a weatherman’s standpoint, Shaw noted that we had an unusual wet and cool period beginning last winter and continuing on into spring this year.
“From November last year through about April this year, north Louisiana had lots of rain, about 60 inches total with temperatures averaging about 10 degrees below normal. What this has meant is that summer weather got here late and is leaving later than normal. That’s why we’re dry with higher than normal temperatures here in early October,” said Shaw.
There are indicators in nature that will give clues to changes in weather patterns. Shaw mentioned some.
“I haven’t seen any wooly worms and the sweet gum leaves haven’t started turning purple yet. There is another thing to look for, something I have kept up with for years or so and it has been remarkably reliable.
“Some 30 years ago, Grover Stewart, the father of retired Monroe police chief, Joe Stewart, told me something that has proven to be spot on as far as predicting weather changes. It has to do with yellow butterflies. When you start seeing them, you can mark it down; the temperatures will be in the 30s about a month after seeing the butterflies,” Shaw said.
Curious, I did an internet search for yellow butterflies and although I didn’t find exactly what Grover Stewart was talking about, I found this bit of folklore concerning sighting of a yellow butterfly that give me a measure of hope….”Something good should happen to you soon like a positive change, a wedding, a new relationship, unexpected help, the birth of a child, a rebirth, the beginning of a new life, the end of misfortune, the end of your sorrows.”
Now you know why my heart fluttered when I saw those two earlier today. I’m seriously hoping that “the end of my sorrows and misfortune” will mean that when I head for the woods this fall, maybe sweat won’t be dripping from my nose and it won’t sound like I’m walking on potato chips.