Home > Feature Stories > A Winter’s Tale–told by a Wooly Worm

A Winter’s Tale–told by a Wooly Worm

November 9, 2009

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I moved back to North Carolina in late October, 2002.  I had a month to get my home in order before playing hostess for my extended family’s Thanksgiving celebration.

While scurrying around unpacking, hanging curtains and foraging for displaced small appliances, my mind was on recipes, grocery lists and locating my missing salad plates.  It sure the heck was not on winter storms.

Thanksgiving came and went with only a few glitches, but I wasn’t prepared for what occured only days later. Piedmont North Carolina was covered in ice, paralyzed by a storm that set records for power outages, accidents and fatalities.  I’ll never forget that winter, as the post-Thanksgiving storm would be the first of four that season.  All of them packed a punch, too.  We  went without power up to five days on two occasions before Spring finally arrived.

I learned a lesson my first year back in my home state. I had been in such a rush to get prepared for my Thanksgiving guests, it had not occurred to me to prepare for  winter storms.  Besides, I had been living in Kansas where blizzards are common.  North Carolina could not possibly compete with the challenges of 30 degree below temps and two feet of snow accumulation in less than 24 hours. Or so it would seem.

What I hadn’t considered was that in Kansas, my home had gas water and heat and two fireplaces with gas logs that kept a room quite comfortable for days–and I lived in a city with underground utilities.  In Charlotte, our home has a wood burning fireplace (“real wood is so charming“), dual zone electric heat pumps and vulnerable trees that snap when laden with ice, taking power lines down with them.

It never crossed my  mind to buy a cord of wood “just in case.”

These days, my pantry stays stocked with tuna fish and bottled water, and wood stays stacked at two locations near the house.

And every Fall, I scavenge for woolly worms.  Yep. In 2002, while spending some time near Foscoe (outside of Boone) I found the biggest, fattest wooly worm I had ever seen.  Big and fat and black.  The old-timers had told me as a child that black wooly worms meant long, challenging winters.

I believed them as a child, and after 2002, I assure you, I believe them today.

While moving some plants a few weeks ago, I discovered a black wooly worm. That’s all I needed to know.  I immediately made sure I had fuel for the generator, extra batteries for all things battery-operated, and I checked on my wood supply again, “just in case.”

Heed the wooly worm warning and make sure you are more prepared than I was back in the winter of 2002.  At one point, we had about one million folks in the Piedmont without power.

And that, dear readers, is not a good thing.

Ani

Photo credit: Seoul Mama

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  1. Michaeline
    November 9, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    I find the whole wooly worm thing interesting. In fact it was just a couple of weeks ago that I found one in an orchard that was all golden in color. I have never seen a solid colored wooly worm before but this golden colored specimen certainly caught my interest. What message is that worm trying to tell us?

    • Ani
      November 13, 2009 at 8:46 am

      Hopefully, Michaeline, the wooly worm you saw was sending you the message that at your home, winter is going to be filled with fires roaring, apple cider mulling and the warmth that comes from having family gathered round! Here’s wishing you all those things in the coming months.

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