The woolly bear caterpillar folk lore was beaten into my head long before I even mastered walking, but I still use that fuzzy insect to predict the winter.

I remember hearing it like it was yesterday. Every Sunday morning in the Fall, I'd be riding along in the Doren-mobile on our way to church. While cruising on the country road blacktop, ole Pa Doren would point out every 'woolly worm' he saw.

"Better get your long johns ready. It's going to be a bad winter," he forecast, or, "Looks like we'll be able to leave the windows open this winter," every time one of those stripped forecasters crossed the road in front of us.

The woolly bear caterpillar, or woolly worm, has for years earned the honor of forecasting the upcoming winter. As the legend goes, the longer the brown middle section, the harsher the approaching winter will get.

Scientific research has since proven that the width of that brown ban has more to do with age and moisture than prognosticating what Old Man Winter has in store for us. Interesting enough though, they get it right more times than not. Well, at least according my father anyway.

That being said, that hasn't stopped city-wide celebrations from paying tribute to the legend. Vermillion, OH hosts the 'Woollybear Festival' in October. The 'Woolly Worm Festival' in Banner Elk, NC will hold it's 39th annual party. You can even 'have a wild and woolly time' in Lewisburg, PA during their Woolly Worm Festival.

Regardless if it's true or not, when ever I see one, I still can hear Pa Doren firing off one of his 'from the hip' sayings that made him famous. Well, in the Doren household that is.



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