Red sky at night, shepherd's delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning
The weather is a pretty fundamental force that shapes our daily lives, it is no wonder that we spend so much time talking about it. I don't know about you, but just about every conversation I have with one of my neighbours starts with a greeting and then something about the weather. Anyone would think we are obsessed with it and not only that, we are really good at stating the obvious either directly or with a sharp bit of irony.
How the seasons affect us and the weather it brings has shaped not only how we go about our daily lives, but also how we see the world. It has shaped how to farm, how we live, what we live in and how we worship. It stands to reason that this mysterious entity that can be a blessing and a curse is something we would like to tame or at the very least placate.
We have sent much of our collective history, making offerings, preying and even trying to make deals to keep the unwanted parts of the weather away from us. As we have developed as a society we have stopped trying to get the weather under our control and gone "all-in" on divination. This is true today as much as any time in our time on this earth, though these days we use weather maps and satellites rather than consulting with oracles or looking out for a "red sky at night".
Terms and Folklore
- Allhallowtide Summer (or just Tide Summer)
Unseasonably weather right through until the Allhallowtide. Those that experience this always say there is an account that needs to be paid for extra good weather that has been granted:
When the winter comes,
It will snow until May,
Because old man frost,
Is due his warrant paid.
A sudden squall that will hit the sailers at sea. The day maybe fair and the water calm, but the ocean can be harsh and all of a sudden a blunk can hit. They say: "The Sea Crone will call a blunk upon those that do no pay tribute..." Sadly there is no mention of what this tribute might be, which doesn't really help the seafarer.
- The Candlemas Saaveall
It is the rough weather, high winds and pelting rain that hit the Isle of Wight during February and March. It is believed that all "Good God fearing men" should go to St Mary the Virgin Church in Brading and make a donation and light a candle for St Wilfrid. It is unclear if this works, but, the fact it no longer happens and we have these storms every year might suggest something.
- A Drythe
A Drythe is a hot and dry northerly of easterly wind that blows over the Island. It is known to have no freshness to it and is relentless when it hits. The farmers call it the Curse of the Drythe because of the effect it has one the land and their crops. They believe it is a drythe that causes the ground to crack so it can get down under the earth and dry up the springs and watercourses. When the Island is being hit by a drythe, one should never sink a new well as the drythe will follow it, dry up the water and leave the ground poisoned.
Extremely hot weather, but unlike the Drythe there is no wind, just a constant beating down of heat. It is said that it is caused by the gallibaggers (scarecrows) turning their backs on the sun and they say that a gallibagger should always face north/south so as to never to bring down the waadishens. An old saying "It's so hot even the Devil feels the waadishens".
Bengy means that is overcast and threatening to rain. The word "bengy" had also become part of the Isle of Wight dialect and it meant "To drink too much".
- Eague or Heague
This a sudden squall that hits the Island on an otherwise bright and calm day, quite often it will hit the south or west. They say it is caused by someone angering the rooks or crows to such a degree that they send the eague to show their displeasure.
The perfect weather to dry clothes, a bright warm day with a cross breeze. The weather cannot be too hot and the breeze not too strong otherwise the clothes are libel to become scratchy from the heat and blow away in the wind. There are ways of making a Drouth more likely and they say that whispering to bumble bees will help.
It describes how the sun moves in the sky:
– Easing Dæsaal is the movement in winter
– Growing Dæsaal is the movement in summer
They do say that is a way to reverse the dæsaal and to do that you must follow the moon accross the island from the moment it rises to when it sets and never take your eyes off it. If you do then then Easing will happen in summer and the Growing in winter.
- The Swaailen
The last and most important bit of weather on the island is the Swaailen. It is the mysterious fog that comes over the Island from no-where, a thick blanket that will roll in from any point except the north. It is believed that when this comes in, the other place is near and anything might happen. If you are taken by the Swaailen who knows where or when you might come back, you could even return before you were taken. The hills have been known to change height during this and in some cases completely disappear with people forgetting they even existed. It is the world of the Ylfe and the Puck and a place of spells and magic and is not for us mere mortals. But, not all is lost, can you can anchor yourself in this world by the laying of stones or steaning and people would often keep a few pebbles in their pockets for just these occasions.