Bee in the Bonnet: Weather or not?

By B.H. Bates

Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it. Global warming, hot summers, no snow and an Elder recently told me we’re going to have an early spring. Wondering whether or not I can depend on the word of a modern day climatologist, an Elders hot air or the flip of a coin: “The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind!”
My lady love and I live in a wonderful, peaceful valley in British Columbia. The Great Spirit knew what he (or she) was doing when he (or she) created this part of the World; long hot summers, short winters with the usual three to five centimeters of snow, just in time for the holidays. The spring weather awakens beautiful yellow flowers as the days grow longer. And Autumns in the Okanagan valley… well, what can I say? I think the Great Spirit got the idea for ‘Indian Summer’ right here in paradise.
I shouldn’t be telling everyone about this place, because sooner or later every Tom O’Conner, Dick Minsky and Harry Krishna will come here and shack-up with a Native lady, or Bro, and move onto the local Rez. But, what the hell! My guess and hope is: only the smart ones will figure out the secret.
Comparing the rest of the World to this neck of the woods; North America has a fairly stabile economy, we don’t have land-mines planted in the north forty, but, only in Canada, eh – do we have as many beavers, per-capita, as the United States has guns. Looking closer at the great white (and red) north country: on the east coast, they have the ‘nor-westerners’ coming off the chilly Atlantic ocean. Moving west, young man: unless you speak French, you may as well keep on trucking. Then comes the prairies … well Bro, they’re as featureless and as flat as the chest of a pre- pubescent girl.
Alberta, the gateway to beautiful B. C. (Best Country). Now, don’t get me wrong, Alberta’s not all that bad – except the weather can turn from nice to nasty faster than a menopausal woman! And not to say that good old B. C., Isn’t without it’s faults. Up north can get pretty damn cold and on the ‘wet’ coast (Vancouver and the island), you don’t tan, you rust!
Now, finally to the OK (Okanagan) valley … well my (Native) brothers and sisters: “This land was made for you and me!” The valley is protected by the coastal mountain range from the Pacific storms. We do get some rain, but it only falls between 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM. The sun is just a little warmer, there are more stars in the night sky and folks here are as friendly as a politician around election time.
… And now, back to the ‘weather.’ Can an Elder really tell the future? A long time ago when the Earth was green – the Elders were the ones to whom we turned when we wanted to know whether or not it was a good day to have a ‘potlatch’ (picnic, to our non-native readers). They looked to nature for the answers; Red sky at night: Injun, can sleep outside tonight. Red sky in morn: Injun sleep in Wigwam.
Another respected Elder (my Mom, Phyllis Bates) told me she could feel a change in the weather in her ol’ bones. And it’s been a proven fact, that it is possible to detect atmospheric changes in your general health; hair can get frizzy, eyes can become dry and itchy, everything from congestion to erections. The weather can even change a person’s moods, it can make us feel happy and active to sad and depressed.
The ‘Old ones,’ knew of these things; they made rock circles and observed the seasonal equinoxes, watched the sun’s rise and fall on the horizon, and even the movement of the animals told the ancient ones what to expect in the near future. And many thought that the Druids, with their Stone Henge, were the first ones to cast light on a forecast?
One old Elder told me he had a cat that could tell him the weather … Yes, a cat? He said he’d take the cat to the back of the house and then throw the cat out the window, then he’d go to the front door and let the cat back in; if the cat was wet, he knew it was raining. If the cat tracked in snow he knew it was winter and if the cat didn’t come back – he knew he needed a new cat.


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