Dog­ber­ries are pre­dict­ing a hard win­ter ahead

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial - BY AL­LAN STOODLEY

Most of us are fa­mil­iar with the old adage, “if there’s lots of dog­ber­ries, we’re go­ing to be

in for a long, hard win­ter.”If dog­ber­ries be­ing plen­ti­ful is a pre­dic­tor of lots of snow and cold weather ahead, we’d all bet­ter “bat­ten down the hatches.”

This year there are lit­er­ally thou­sands of the bright or­an­gered berries adorn­ing the trees along the road­side all around the Burin Penin­sula, es­pe­cially in the Grand Beach area.

The rea­son be­hind dog­ber­ries be­ing a win­ter weather fore­caster in New­found­land is that a long, cold win­ter with lots of snow would re­sult in robins and other birds need­ing ex­tra nour­ish­ment to get them through; thus, Mother Na­ture takes care of that by sup­ply­ing more berries.

The dog­berry trees put on quite a show at this time of year with their yel­low­ing and fall­ing leaves pro­vid­ing the per­fect back­drop for the bril­liantly coloured berries.

In this prov­ince we re­fer to th­ese small, de­cid­u­ous trees or shrubs as dog­wood or dog­berry trees, while else­where in North Amer­ica they are cor­rectly called Moun­tain Ash.

We have two na­tive species of the tree on the is­land: Amer­i­can Moun­tain Ash and Showy Moun­tain Ash.

The berries on one of the species are a much darker red than on the other. In Grand Bank many peo­ple re­fer to the darker berries as “dog­ber­ries” and to the lighter-brighter berries as “cat­ber­ries.” Both are dog­ber­ries.

Of­ten in the past peo­ple would use the berries to make wine or jelly. The berries also pro­vided many of us in our younger years with a favourite sport when dark nights ar­rived early in the fall to raid the neigh­bours’ trees to steal “a feed of dog­ber­ries.”

Be­lieve me, they didn’t taste very good.

The last time this area en­joyed such a boun­ti­ful crop of dog­ber­ries was back in 2013. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see what the upcoming win­ter has in store for us.

AL­LAN STOODLEY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Dog­ber­ries are known to be a win­ter weather fore­caster in this prov­ince. If folk­lore holds true, we could be in for a long, snowy, cold win­ter.

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