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On the news beat: Was that thunder I heard?

February 4, 2011

One morning last week, I awoke to a very unsettling sound.
No, it wasn’t the jarring sound of an alarm clock. It was the harsh peal of thunder.
After hearing the thunderstorm move across Hickory, my thoughts immediately went to one thing: snow.
It’s part of an old wives’ tale my grandmother always talked about. She said that any time it thunders during winter months, the area will have snow within 7-10 days.
The surprising thing is that most of the time, it happens.
So, when I woke up Wednesday morning a week ago to the sounds of rumbling thunder, I immediately checked the 10-day forecast. There was nothing on the horizon that resembled a snowstorm, let alone a few scattered flakes.
So I waited, and sure enough, there it was. A Friday forecast with a chance of snow at 50 percent, according to the National Weather Service. That’s about 10 days after I first heard the thunder, which fits in perfectly with my grandmother’s saying about winter weather and thunderstorms.
With that in mind, I decided to investigate a few other old wives’ tales. If there’s truth to one, perhaps there’s truth to another.

An itchy nose
According to myth, if your nose itches, you should expect a visitor soon. I also heard this old wives’ tale growing up, but a little online research led me to discover there is more to the myth.
Apparently, if your right nostril itches, you can expect a female visitor. If you have an itchy left nostril, expect a male visitor.
If I ever mentioned an itchy nose when I was little, my family members always said, “You better get ready for a visitor.”
This myth, I must say, is pretty unreliable, from my experience. But maybe that’s because not many people come to visit 5-year-old children.

Horse shoes
I’ve been in lots of homes with horse shoes hanging over doorways, and those shoes are a testament to another old wives’ tale that speaks of luck. The horse shoe brings luck to anyone living in the house — as long as it hangs in the right direction. A shoe hanging upside down allows all the luck to drain from the horse shoe, so no luck will be brought to the family.
A horseshoe still hangs in my grandmother’s house to this day, and according to my mom, it’s been there for as long as she can remember.

Fingernails
Apparently, old wives’ tales also govern how and when people trim their fingernails. Cutting your fingernails on Friday or Saturday is bad luck, and any fingernail clippings must be saved, burned or buried to prevent bad luck. I discovered this myth online. I always trim my fingernails whenever I please, and I definitely don’t save them, but I haven’t noticed any ill-will or bad luck. ... Or at least I don’t think so.
Whether you believe in old wives’ tales or not, there’s something to be said about the thunder/winter weather myth. One thing’s for sure, I know I’ll prepare for a dose of winter weather this weekend.

Jordan-Ashley Baker is a reporter for The Observer News
Enterprise. Her column appears in the Wednesday edition of The O-N-E.

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