Wise Words and Country Ways Weather Lore. Ruth Binney David and Charles, 2010 Hardback 208 pp ISBN 978-0-7153-3629-8


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This book on weather lore is one of the best I have seen. The author has a background in science, having a degree in Natural Science from Cambridge, and it shows. It is intelligently written, but also fun, interesting and enjoyable.

The book is a collection of sayings, proverbs and superstitions relating to the weather and its patterns. Over centuries of history they have influenced the lives of gardeners, farmers, sailors and anyone whose livelihood or even safety depended on being able to foretell the weather. And all this was well before the days of scientific weather forecasts.

I was amazed to learn that the oldest records go all the way back to the Babylonians in the twelfth century BC. They wrote their observations on tablets, in-cluding When a cloud grows dark in the sky, a wind will blow. There is also an interesting early version of Red sky in the morning… from the Romans.

Each piece of weather lore is explained with regard to its origins, whether it has any scientific basis and whether it actually works in practice. I am sure that not every reader will agree 100% with the author's explanations, as some are open to a certain amount of interpretation, but on the whole it is well researched and written.

It is a great book to dip in and out of, but could equally be read in one sitting. It is split into logical chapters, separating the wealth of sayings into manageable chunks. One of the chapters, for example, is Around the Year, which moves through the seasons, another is Nature's Signs which focuses on plants and animals.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and have found that not only are the sayings interesting, some of them can be very useful!