It's March 31, meaning 2012's third month has already come and gone.
An old saying states ''March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb'' - meaning that the month begins with the ferocity of winter and leaves with the pleasantness of spring. This year's unseasonably mild temperatures didn't help anyone remember that proverbial phrase, which I thought to be a pretty commonly used one. A phone call I received earlier this week from a concerned citizen, however, helped me realize that it may not be as well-known in today's society as I had assumed.
My tipster informed me that at a recent social gathering she attended, she mentioned the phrase to more than a dozen individuals. According to her report, only two of those people claimed to have ever heard it before - and those, she said, ''were older people like (her).''
I did a little research about weather-related proverbs and discovered others that may be well-known in some circles and completely lost to others.
''Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.'' My research finds this one dates to the Bible (Matthew 16:1-3) and reminds people that a red sky at sunset means the western sky is clear, and that as most weather systems approach from that direction, fair conditions are on the way. Conversely, a red sky at sunrise means that the clear sky has already passed to the east and low pressure - bringing clouds and rain - is likely on its way.
''Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning.'' Similar to the one above, this stands as a reminder that an eastward sun with a rainbow in the west means that rain is moving toward the observer.
''Halo around the sun or moon, rain or snow soon.'' This is a new one to me. Apparently, if you see a halo around the sun or the moon, you're actually seeing a layer of clouds made of ice crystals. That indicates an approaching warm front and an associated area of low pressure, and therefore a greater chance for precipitation.
Of course, with continual weather updates beamed to us on television, the Internet and our cellphones on what seems to be a minute-by-minute basis, many of these prediction mnemonics are obsolete. Why do I need to remember that the red sky at night means it will be a nice morning tomorrow, when the weatherman already told me that?
But having a knowledge of these little bits of wordplay from the past gives us an insight into how people in past generations were able to forecast the weather without radar and satellite imagery. Plus, as my caller reminded me, it's always good to have a nifty little factoid to break out at a party.
For more on these and other weather proverbs, visit wxdude.com/proverb.html.