Foggy Mornings, Brains, and Beans

My farm is slap-dab in the Appalachian Mountains.

That means the view is awesome, the climate divine, and the people here are warm and friendly.

That also means that when I moved here, I found myself living in a place rich in its own unique, special traditions. And music. Oh the music and traditions of Appalachia!

When we got here last August, we were immediately introduced to a very special August ritual dealing with fog:

For every foggy morning in August, there will be a snow event the following winter. So keep track of the foggy August mornings.

This is what every old-timer in and around these mountains will tell you. And it is INDEED a fact. This is a tradition that WORKS. At least it did for us last year.

The specific ritual for our region is to use an old jar and dried beans. During August, put one bean in the jar for each foggy morning. The number of beans you have in the jar is the number of snows you’ll have in the winter. Then, for every snow you get that winter, take a bean out. And when the very last bean comes out of the jar, you’ve had your last snow. That means it is time to make some bean soup to commemorate the end of winter. (Some folks “celebrate” the end. Not us. We loved every second of the cold and snow last year.)

Last year, we had the EXACT number of beans for EVERY snow event.

This year I promptly forgot all about it! I’m just a Farmgirl with a Foggy Brain lately! (I shared wtih my FB peeps that I bought some Ginkgo tablets because my memory has gotten so bad. Guess what? I forget to take them. So I can report that they are doing NO GOOD for my Foggy Fifty-Year-Old Brain.) Yes, I’ve been so busy with renovating barns and running from snakes and trying to fix tractors that won’t work and doctoring pecked chickens, that we FORGOT!

One day I’m talking to my Dad on the phone and he says—“So, how many beans do you have in your jar so far this year?” He and my Mom had visited with us while we were counting foggy mornings last year. So I say to my Dad –“Oh, we don’t do that until….August….” And then it hit me. IT’S AUGUST! How could I have forgotten this? You know how much I loved the snow last year. I relished every single snowflake. And I forgot to count the foggy mornings in August?!

So I started asking around. “How many beans do you have in your jar?” And, apparently, I am not the only one who forgot to count this year.

So I headed to the place everyone told me to go, a very large and active general store that counts the foggy mornings for everyone, all of us with Foggy Brains.

What a cool place.

Come on in and step back in time with me.

Here’s the coke cooler, filled with BOTTLES of Coca-Cola and Fanta and Sprite. $1.00 per bottle. And there’s a pop top right beside it, though my daughter saved her bottle cap; such a novelty.


Pickled Egg or Pig’s Foot? Lord have mercy, no! But, I like how the new and the old is represented in this photo. Jars or stuff that I didn’t know people still ate, on top of a microwave oven.

Do you need any rope or chain? Seems like I always do on this farm! I guess I’m not alone because they had much to choose from.

This sign is hanging from the ceiling. I love the way the paint is chipping on the old wood ceilings.

Now, I won’t turn this down. Barrels of candy, sold by the weight.

What size bolt do you need?

Of course there had to be a working stove.

Colored pencils, made from hand-carved sticks!

This is a display of lots of pretty gems and stones. Don’t you just want to grab a bag and pick out a few special rocks. 

What a fun store. I was in there forever. I resisted the Fanta grape and the rocks, but I couldn’t resist  a CD from a local family band that plays bluegrass and a sign that says, “Hippies use side door.” I’ll hang that on my barn.

Finally I remembered why I was there; I asked them about their jar of foggy mornings. The store clerk showed it to me and I counted the beans. This was a few days ago and there was 16. Yeah. Yay. WooHoo. Woot. Yippee. And all that. A few more days in August and I’ll have the final count.

My jar is sitting in a window, looking out at yet another foggy morn this morning.

Here’s to a snowy winter in the Appalachian Mountains!

As it turns out the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a bitterly cold winter. Hmmm. ….

I need to start thinking about stocking my SNOW PANTRY for this winter. Pasta for sure. Toilet paper and coffee, yes. Cat and dog and chicken and horse food. I need to be prepared this year. Last year we had no idea what we were doing up here in the mountains and snow. This year I’ll do better. Bottled water, yes. And lots of yummy dried beans! (beans, beans, good for the brains, the more you eat, the less it  strains…or something like that.)

Talk to me!

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah

ps don’t hate me because I love the snow….you’ve got to remember that I lived 49 years without it, just DREAMING and WISHING and HOPING THAT one day my dream would come true. And it finally did! That’s why I’m hoping this week is full of foggy mornings! I’ve got until August 30th to collect the beans.

P.S. Are there any traditions or rituals about snow or winter in your neck of the woods?

  1. Diana Henretty says:

    Good Morning from the Ozarks,
    Here in SW Missouri, we pick persimmon seeds, open them up, check to see if there is the shape of a knife, fork, or spoon to predict the winter, it works every year. We are hoping to see the shape of a spoon this year, that will mean shoveling lots of snow.
    We too start preparing for winter in August, our local sawmill gives away their scraps, so we load up for cooking on my old cookstove.
    We have a "ice storm pantry" named after the ice storm in 2007, where we keep all extras and necessities "just in case". Every time I go grocery shopping I buy an extra item or two all thru the year to stock up gradually.
    Growing up in San Diego Calif where the temps are pretty warm all year long, I longed for a white snowy winter, and still do here in the Ozarks.
    This year the Farmer’s Almanac promises us one too, YAY!!
    Happiness to you, gathering your beans, and counting on a snowy winter!
    Diana, Noel, Mo.

  2. Joan says:

    Oh how the traditions are so wonderful! Miss the Appalachian mountains fogs, had never heard about the beans though – nice to know. Around here we watch the horses, if they start getting their heavy coats on we know it is going to be an early cold, how much for how long is a guess though, nothing accurate like the beans. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your anniversary of loving the mountains. God Bless.

  3. I grew up a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway and I remember it being said that the number of foggy days would be how many frosts you would have. But I like the idea of snowy days better! Now I am in Idaho in town and can’t see the mountains (boo!)unless I drive to the interstate (sometimes the only high spot around). I wonder if the number of smoky days has some significance? I know it means dry and lots of wildfires! So I am "green" with envy of you (green being only where the irrigation water flows here.) Totally different place, but I am trying to "bloom where I am planted". I even found a 12′ 1956 glamper that is sitting in my back yard (a girl can dream, can’t she?) I am now 65 and my dreams sort of outweigh reality, but I am still active and thankful for what I have. Best to you.

  4. Meredith says:

    Here in the Shenandoah Valley of Va. W watch the "wooly worms". I don’t know their real name. They are brown fuzz with a black fuzzy stripe. We were always told that if they didnt have the stripe and were solid brown, it would be a hard winter. Or maybe if they were all black with no brown. I can’t ever remember! This year I have seen very few of any combination! What does that mean?! I am voting for a snowy winter!

  5. Brenda says:

    Oh I am glad we do not have that ritual, we get plenty of snow without adding the fog days into the mix. I would sure love to ship some of the white stuff to you because you appreciate it so much more than I. Beautiful foggy picture and I would love to visit that store, right down my alley. We have a local general store but it looks so modern. Have a great week!

  6. Candace says:

    You would think as a resident in Minnesota that we would have such a tradition as counting foggy mornings to predict upcoming snow events in the winter but I haven’t heard of such. Oh, and Rebekah, you need hot chocolate in your snow pantry! When we hear a snow storm is coming we check our hot chocolate supply, our tea, toilet paper and cat food. I always have soup frozen in the freezer.

  7. Debbie says:

    Darn you Rebekah! What are you doing saying the " S " word out loud already? Hahahah. I’m already seeing grumpy faces on my fellow New Englanders with the end of summer in sight.
    And, the rain and clouds we are having right now don’t help the situation. On top of that, our local news channel announced that we are in for a " bitter col winter " . I guess they’ve been reading the farmers almanac too! One thing we have to do this year is buy a generator. The last few winters ( and fall during hurricane season ) have been challenging leaving so many with out power for days and often weeks on end. I don’t wanna be in that crowd this year! I do love the snow though, and days locked inside with my family and lots of good food… But I like to be arm too! I’m wishing YOU a far full of beans and all the snow you can handle! As for this farmgirl…I’m content to keep cutting flowers until the first frost. ( which I feel will come sooner rather than later this year )
    Happy Farmin’ sister!
    Deb ( Beach farmgirl )

  8. Deborah Bessom says:

    Hello from California! I live in a little logging town one hours drive almost exactly west to Sacramento, or east to South Lake Tahoe. Our town looked just like your picture, except that ours was smoke, not fog from the Yosemite fire (although it is quite a distance away). We try to figure our upcoming snowfall by a plethora of falling pine cones, or how fat our cat is getting. This year we have a cute little kitten, and are yet not able to set our winter clock to his girth (he grows bigger daily anyway). However, we do know that we have had our last snow when it "Snows on the Dogwood". That we can set our winter clock to! Have a wonderful winter, but don’t forget to enjoy the fall.

  9. Carol in NC says:

    Wow. I guess it’s true then. I heard three people in as many days say that if this rainy weather pattern holds we’re going to be in for a rough winter. We got rid of a ton of stuff in our move but kept the sleds. Bring it!

  10. Marji says:

    Well here in the Interior of Alaska we watch for the migrating swans leaving for the winter. We live right next to a big game refuge that is the summer home to millions of migratory birds. Some of those being swans. We always know when the first snow will be by the day the swans leave. It is quite an awesome sight to see hundreds of swans all leaving on the same day. You can then start counting the days until the first snow. One, two, and on the third day we get snow. This unscientific method of forecasting always works. They’ll be flying out pretty soon here so we will keep a close watch on the skies for the next few weeks. I love the snow too, you are not alone. Marji

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