Poor Will's Almanack: October 23 - 29, 2012

Oct 23, 2012

Poor Will's Almanack for the third week of Middle Fall.

It wasn’t that long ago that all the workings of the world were great mysteries. Since people didn’t know what kinds of forces made the weather, they gave equal weight to a regular rain shower and a shower of frogs (yes, there have been showers of frogs). Stories about amazing weather phenomena were popular not only because they were different, but because people couldn’t figure out at all why they were occurring. Some people… a lot of people… thought the unusual events were signs from heaven.

When I was growing up, my grandfather would look at a blood red full moon and say, “Someone’s going to die tonight.” It made sense to me at the time. And it scared me. The color wasn’t just there for nothing. It had to mean something.

These days, we have satellites and scientists to tell us everything we want to know about the weather. In fact, we depend on them so much, we don’t really pay much attention to what is going on around us. We accept all those professional assertions because, after all, they are modern, and they are on TV or the Internet. We don’t really understand how all those things work, of course. We just believe someone else understands.

I’ve given up wondering about the blood red moon (well, of course, someone dies EVERY night, so….), and I accept the explanation of the meteorologists who say that the red comes from gases or particles in the atmosphere, which are such-and-such a way at such-and-such a time.

Just like people used to accept the explanation given to them by the authorities of their own time and place, that this earthquake or this tremendous clap of thunder, or that shower of fishes was really an act of God.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Middle Fall. In the meantime, watch for the moon to rise red at the end of the week. What will it mean this time?