Thursday, July 31, 2008

Never Doubt the Purple Sage

Summer is flying by and I'm playing catch-up. It seems like summer just started and we're already going into August. June flew by because we kept Anevay. She attended Summer Safari Classes at the zoo where she learned about different classes of animals and their habitats. July has flown by because of the weather. It started off with a bang when 6.17 inches of rain officially fell in Brownsville during the first 8 days of the month. Some parts of the city received over 10 inches. We quickly returned to the hot, dry weather pattern we're accustomed to in Brownsville but the unusual rain event made everyone happy and made for great conversation.

Fast forward to the evening of July 16th. Darlene and I attend the Summer Social at the zoo. We enjoy a wonderful Cajun supper and casually chat with friends. As the event begins to wind down and folks begin to leave, we spot Carol, one of our favorite people in the world. Carol is a local artist, a noted naturalist and absolutely one of the nicest ladies I've ever met. We all chat about this and that before the conversation turns to the heavy rain event earlier in the month. At some point during the conversation, Carol nonchalantly says, "we'll have another heavy rain soon, the purple sage is blooming". I absorb the information but never follow through with any questions about how this weather proverb originated. However, during the next few days, everywhere I look, purple sage is blooming, including the one I have in a pot in our back yard.

Fast forward to July 20th. Darlene and I are in Hope to celebrate her mom's birthday. I'm gathering oak limbs to use in my eyelash viper cages when Darlene walks out and hands me my cell phone. The voice on the other end is Rob, our intern from work. He tells me about "Dolly" a storm that has quickly formed in the northwest Caribbean and is forecast to make landfall near the mouth of the Rio Grande River around Wednesday. We gather our belongings and around noon, begin the drive back to Brownsville.

Fast forward to Wednesday, July 23rd. Dolly, now a Category 2 hurricane, makes landfall just north of Brownsville. Her slow forward motion of 7 mph is our worst nightmare. Over 7 inches of rain falls in Brownsville (officially 7.02) while other parts of the county receive up to 18 inches. Most of the mid and lower Valley easily receive over 8 inches of rainfall. Even today, some areas are still under water.

Weather lore has been around forever. As a child, I clearly remember my father saying, "if the sun sets behind a bank of clouds on Sunday, it'll rain before Wednesday". More times than not, he was right. When I was in the Navy, it was common to hear, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morn, sailor take warn". I never quite figured that one out. If weather lore is to be believed, July is a good example of how Mother Nature can predict the weather and how we should look for the clues. I know from now on, I'll pay close attention to the purple sage!


Don Oettinger said...

You think 7 inches of rain is a lot? You should move to Houston!

XXXX said...

Thanks for sharing more of your homespun, down-home weather lore with us city-folk. I'll never forget your advice when relating to coral snakes; red next to yellow, friendly fellow, red next to back, look out jack! Thanks!

Jim said...

Don - 7 inches ANYWHERE in Texas in July is a lot of rain!!!!!

XXXX - No, no, no, no, NO!!! Red and yellow KILL a fellow, red and black, venom lack! So much to teach you, so little time!!!!

Txstraub said...

See, and I learned "red and black friend of jack" "red and yellow kill a fellow" I hope that is up to your standards, of course this has nothing to do with weather, but I will definitely be watching the purple stage!

Hmm since at the Island is it- no cloud in sight = 3rd degree burn? :-)

Jim said...

Michelle - I think the saying goes "no cloud in sight, skin turn red and bright"!

Purple stage - raised platform where actors perform, painted purple.

Purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) - plant native to the Chihuahuan desert in Texas that some naturalist observe to predict heavy rainfall.

XXXX said...


I'm pretty sure you're wrong. Another variant I've heard is...

Red and yellow, nice and mellow, red and black, don't talk smack! Heard of that one?

Purple stage: any stage that the artist formerly known as Prince is performing on.

Derek said...

And right when I was just getting ready to raise the roof because you didn't post anything in your blog in June OR July, you post this little gem. You spent the time well and have obviously been thinking about it a bit. You out did yourself, man! Brilliant.

Jim said...

XXXX - You're right, I stand corrected. Next time you see a snake with red and yellow bands touching, GO AHEAD, PICK IT UP!!

Oh, THAT purple stage!

Derek - Thanks for the kind words, man. I bet you'll see lots of purple sage on your upcoming trip to NM. Take me with you, man!!!!

Jungle Pete said...

I hear coral snakes have small heads and can't bite you anyway. Just to confuse people - I have heard "red on yellow, happy fellow, red on black, heart attack." - Which is of course wrong.

We just got a Honduran Kingsnake and I had to look twice and repeat the correct rhyme to make sure I wasn't reaching in and grabbing a Coral. That would be like the boss to trick me.

Jim said...

For God's sake people, FOCUS! The subject is weather lore, NOT coral snakes. But, since we're off subject, my friend Jungle Pete is a newlywed so please congratulate him and his lovely bride MaLe. Check out his blog for the details! Congrats again, man!!!!

Darlene said...

Nice post! BTW, didn't Hendrix write a song about purple sage? No, no! It was "Purple Haze", wasn't it? Nevermind.

Jim said...

Thanks Baby. Maybe Hendrix was smoking purple sage when he wrote "Purple Haze"!

Txstraub said...

And he performed on a purple stage! :-)

oops on the typo, I'm just happy the comment made it through with internet being iffy here at Island where we are staying.

Oh and a purple stage is also only for "royal" people, since it is the color of royalty!

Hi Darlene!

XXXX said...

In Nevada, purple sages were called Texas Rangers. Really pretty. Although, they would bloom there even though Las Vegas only gets 4 inches of rain a year. What would qualify as heavy rain there? A quarter of an inch of rain?

Purple stage: Any stage on which Barney the Dinosaur is performing.

Jim said...

Michelle - Your knowledge about purple stages only rivals your knowledge of gourmet cooking. Fascinating!

XXXX - In Texas, Texas Rangers are known as, well, Texas Rangers and have nothing to do with plants, rainfall or coral snakes.

They do enjoy a good performance on a purple stage, though.

Darlene said...

After two "failed" attempts to post another comment I will make this one shorter. Blogspot can be such a PIA sometimes. (Sorry if the blog gods are reading this.)

So: Regardless of whatever Jimi was smoking when he wrote "Purple Haze" or anything else, he will always be one of my all-time favorite artists!

Hi to all of you! =)

(who now copies all comments before posting)

L.A. Mitchell said...

I'd never heard that about purple sage, but Weather Boy here talks about the Native American lore of the ring around the moon bringing rain. To me, it just means it's d*mn humid :)

25or6to4 said...

Barney, bah! Show props to the original purple stage creature: Grimace!

Jim said...

I agree Baby, Hendrix will always be the original guitar God to me (sorry Dad!).

L.A. - My dad had a saying about the ring around the moon too. I was trying to remember his rhyme about it when I wrote this post but still can't remember.

Funny, Weather Boy doesn't look Native American!

25or6to4 - You should see me "grimace -ing" right now! I GIVE UP PEOPLE!!!

Aggie92 said...

Wow. So many comments about purple haze...the artist formerly known as Prince...and now I am totally confused about the coral snake rhyme. Maybe the adage should be never doubt the comments about the purple sage.

Jim said...

Aggie92 - Yes, I try to share information and all I get is HEARTACHE!

Beth said...

There is nothing better than reading a post from Jim on the cell phone while laying in bed in the morning. I think we were freezing at a temp of 65 in Wisconsin. It has been down-right cold in Wisconsin. (77 is cold isn't it?)

As usual the post was perfect, and educational and a great read!

hugs beth and leo
presently just west of Normal. If we were south of Normal (IL) we would be sub-normal!

Jim said...

Thanks Beth and Leo! I'd love 65 degrees right now! Our low this morning was 80! There is a cold front splitting the state but, of course, it won't make it this far south. We'll stay in the tropical soup a while longer!

Ya'll be safe on the road!

Anonymous said...

Sorry it's been so long, Jim...but a crazy month(not just with weather) has hit the household and at work.

I saw the purple sage(which we have planted and rarely blooms...though watered). Our elderly neighbor who lost his wife this past May has his bloom much more than ours. Maybe someone is looking down on him? Not the point...but I wonder if I look to see when his blooms, if "rain is on the way".

Glad y'all came out safe and injury-free. Keep up the great blog!