You know weather forecasting is serious business when it involves persimmon seeds and a pocket knife.
Folklore tells us that slicing open persimmon seeds can tell us what the coming winter will bring. If there’s a spoon shape in the meat of the seed, there’ll be lots of snow to shovel. If it’s a knife, winter will be cold with a cutting wind. A fork means a mild winter with little snow.
Autumn is when persimmons get ripe and fall from the tree, and high time to sharpen that knife and commence to slicing. Will we need to keep the snow shovel handy? Or will we stash that parka in the closet in favor of a jacket?
Let’s find out.
We’re here in Jane, Mo., at The Jane Store with outdoor gals extraordinaire Melissa Nichols, Micah Myers and a handful of persimmon seeds. Nichols lives on Little Sugar Creek near Jane. Myers hails from the outskirts of Bentonville.
The Jane Store is perfect for conducting our scientific country research, cutting open persimmon seeds. This town landmark is mostly a home-cooking country cafe like you’d expect in a little town called Jane. The food is delicious and there’s plenty of it.
There aren’t individual tables at The Jane Store. Everyone sits together at four or five community tables, whether you’re a local from Jane or visiting from New Jersey. It’s like everybody’s family here.
After breakfast, the waitress refilled our coffee cups while Nichols whipped open a sharp pocket knife. She placed some seeds on a small white cutting board and started slicing. She placed each brown seed on edge and held it with needle-nosed pliers. No need for cut fingers doing such high-level forecasting. Down went the sharp knife blade, right down the middle.
“Looks like these first two are spoons,” Nichols confirmed. Ah, a good sign for the kiddos who like snow days.
Preparation for this work was downright meticulous. Some of the seeds were plucked right from Nichols’ yard near Jane and others gathered from the Arkansas woods of east Benton County.
“Here’s one that’s got nothing inside,” Nichols piped.
So winter is canceled, right?
“Let’s hope we have a winter,” she said, “we need to get rid of some ticks.”
Myers got in on the citizen science and eyed a sliced seed.
“Wow! Now here’s a really big spoon.”
When the cutting was through, 10 seeds were laid open on the cutting board. Most were spoons with a few more nothing seeds. One looked like a knife if you really used your imagination. None were forks. A snowy winter is ahead, if you believe the lore.
Most folks don’t put much stock in persimmon-seed predictions, or looking at woolly worms or the furriness of a squirrel’s tail to forecast the winter. Doubtful they’re slicing persimmon seeds over at the National Weather Service.
Jane Store owner Gayla Baker doesn’t put much truck in persimmon seeds either, but she’s a big fan of the Old Farmers Almanac. The latest edition predicts Arkansas’ winter will be warmer than normal.
“You gotta go by the Farmers Almanac,” she said. “We’ve weaned horses and cows using it. My mom always went by the Old Farmers Almanac to plant her garden,” Baker said. She and her husband, Sam, have owned The Jane Store since 2011.
Nichols wondered, what if you cut open a persimmon seed and it’s a spork? That’s one our modern-day folklore has yet to address.