JOPLIN, Mo. — Perhaps you check that Farmer’s Almanac when the seasons change to predict upcoming weather patterns. But maybe nature has a way of letting us in on what the coming winter will be, like the way Punxsutawny Phil “predicts” when spring will arrive.

“I think a lot of it is just kind of excitement. You know, it’s been something that’s been passed down from generation to generation and it’s a good conversation starter,” said Tim Smith, Missouri Department of Conservation.

Whether we believe it to be true, whether it’s even successful, these traditions of using nature to predict the coming conditions of the winter ahead have been around for centuries.

“Most of our immigrants to southwest Missouri come from the Appalachian Mountains, and a lot of it came with them when they showed up in the early 1800s. So, you know, it’s probably been around 2, 3, 4, 500 years or longer.”

The saying goes — if you crack open the seeds from the persimmon fruit and find a fork shape — the area could be in for a rather mild winter. If it’s a knife, that represents cutting cold, meaning we’re in for some extremely cold temperatures. And if it’s a spoon, well, we might want to get our shovels ready for the snowfall.

“You ought to be careful, you want to make sure you got a good firm hold on it. Like I said, we don’t want them slipping out of our fingers when we’re trying to cut it. And we’re just going to cut it this way. Now, however you can hold it and cut it length-wise. Like I said, typically, I like to do it between my fingers, I just wanted to make sure that I am not cutting my fingers.”

“And we’ll slice through it … A spoon.”

Some cut persimmons on a table in Joplin, Missouri on October 10th, 2023. The shape seen inside - here, a spoon - are regarded in folklore as indicative of upcoming winter conditions.
Persimmon seeds on a table – the shape seen inside here – a spoon or shovel – is regarded in folklore to indicate a lot of snowfall in the upcoming winter, October 10, 2023

There are also some other old folklore winter predictions. Some say — if you see a hornet’s nest or a squirrel’s nest up high in the trees — there could be a lot of snow headed our way.

“The woolly bear or woolly worms, the caterpillars — this is the time of year you start seeing them crossing the roads, they’re looking for someplace to go and hibernate in the wintertime. But, the legend or the lore on them is, they’re black on both ends and brown in the middle. So, the more brown, the milder the winter,” said Smith.

No matter how you choose to predict the coming winter months, the best advice is to listen to your local meteorologists, like Chase Bullman, Ray Foreman, and Brett Scott on KSN16 and KODE.