Well You've said somethings that got me thinking there.
I don't quite see where I said anything about how clever of a witch you are. Maybe where I was talking bout the methods some use and described some witches as being “clever with signs”? I used the word clever there. Well some are some use other methods. I wouldn't have the foggiest if you are. But I do hope you got more out of that bit than putting words in my mouth to insult yourself. You know that's twice in this topic you decided put words in my mouth and were offended by the words you made up for me.
That said I suppose you're not a clever enough witch to have figured it out already(not that you wont). Now, I'm not singling you out there, nether one of us has figured it yet or this would be a different conversation. You could just explain it to me, or sit on it while I got there on my own. Instead we're talking over ideas. Cause we aren't there yet. I don't know of any witches to get a handle on it yet, but suspect some will. If they haven't. I'd like to think one of us would be among them, but we're going to need to get a bit more clever apparently. So, I'd hope you wouldn't take the phrasing personally, and speak for me. There was defiantly no insult or disrespect intended.
Quite the opposite I wouldn't be discussing the topic this much if I didn't think it could go somewhere. But, I'll tell you what. If you stop thinking I'm trying to offend you. I will unmistakably tell you if I decide to. Though I cant see why I would.
I'm glad you mentioned the gulls in the field. In my state we fallow that one, but name specific towns. If gulls are in those towns there is a storm blowing in. Not that I would know. Those towns are about 200/320 mile/km or so down hill and coastword. That said I should add it to my notes.
We have one I don't see a lot, but gos with your trees. “If the trees lose their leaves from the top first, then hard winters coming. If the bottom first, mild.” this tends to be true here.
Its good to hear the clouds are working for you. That can be a difficult one here. First seeing them in time to matter. We have high horizons from peeks and woodlands. There are spot the world falls away that folk would go to and see whats coming from one direction. However, that would mean taking a few hours a day to get there. I suppose if the right days could be figured out it could be handy. Not only that when it gets here low laying pressure systems change quickly in the steep hills and valleys.
All this adds up to asking passer by’s what the clouds where like where they came from. I'm baffled by how few folk look up. It also means odd or quick changing weather. In my journal so far I count four times this year that we had lightning within a few mile on every side and a sunny sky over head. One lasted two days and the stars where clear that night. At the end of it they ether blow off and maybe we get a little rain, maybe not. Or they fall in on us and we get hit till it blows out. In these cases it doesn’t matter what the passed by's have seen. Folk come by with wet horses from storms we never get.
Funny you mention the groundhog. I'm not too terribly far from Old Phil where the town takes him very seriously and honers him year round. There is quite a lot of changing folklore and takes on the groundhog oracle. For instance the shifting air masses you pointed out. I actual haven't fond that one before 1900, still looking. Some of the old pioneers recorded that to them it was about the frequency in spotting them. Simply put if here's not a lot of groundhogs up and about winter ain't over. On the other hand there are still some that hold that the groundhog(ether all or just Phil) is the embodiment of a grandfather spirit(some say reincarnated). This is an ancestor spirit particularly clever at spotting a early planting season. He then reveals this on candlemas/imbolc. It seems this tracks back to southeast Germany. Though around here if a folklorist can't find providence “it came from Germany”. But, it stuck around well enough that short pudgy old men are told not to leave the house on groundhog's day to keep them from seeing there shadow.
For me groundhog's day falls close enough to an ancestor ritual. That I ask directly and fallow more on the pioneer’s side keeping track of when they get out and about.
As for the weather your relating, it has me thinking a bit.
To start with what we want here is a hard snowy winter, real hot summer, and long spring and autumn. This keeps everything in check and gives us food through the better part of the year. The winter kills off our weak and sick. The summer damn near kills to make everything hard and strong enough for winter. Spring and autumn is to get most of the work done to prepare.
What we are getting is things flatting out to hot followed by wet. With spikes throughout. This means nothing can take the spikes. Animals are born late or early, sickness festers in everything, topsoil washes out and clay bakes. The last one there happened in one week this year. We got a late frost, within rang but just in time to kill our first foraging(six more weeks of last year's wild buckwheat). Spring, and I'm thinking autumn, get cut short. Now its floods then droughts about a week apart. If our normal drought hits in early Sept. things are going to get interesting. Meanwhile, I been trenching and welling so much the neighbors are joking about how much I like digging. Coarse their gardens are dead. I've been using that to gauge if what I'm doing's working. So far so good. Now I should point out they aren't stupid. A few are lazy and too busy look at their phones the tv to do anything about it. The rest don't hold with phones or tvs, but are doing what grandpa did instead of using what he taught them.
Now I'm truly sorry to here about your fruit trees. That I can relate with, but it was winter before last. I still haven't tasted an apple that didn't come from a jar since. This year they made it and I can't wait for harvest. Now a few of us that saw the frost coming, but didn't know it would be enough to takeout the fruit trees. We only spotted it by the pricking of our thumbs and a few flowers not blooming. It was more of somethings not right, than a late frost's coming. So we planted late and had a good tomato and herb year. As you said that winter none of the signs seemed to hold.
How is the rest of your crop coming now?
Are you head into drought after torrential rain?
Was the winter before last wickedly cold but mildly extending on both ends?
Just a thought, but what your describing sounds like you may be a year or two behind us. Same winter same spring.
I hate to rely on communication system(here they're more unpredictable than the weather). That said I remember stories of the Babylonians using weather from several different locations in Mesopotamia for long term weather prediction. If New York's like this in this season and Ontario has this kind of winter, whats that mean here? Just a stray though really.
I don't know if I can hold with your drunk god analogy. The personification suits me, but to me it feels a bit deliberate for that. I also keep getting this feeling its more abrupt and drastic than random. Maybe like someone telling a kid to turn off and on the water, while the kid just want to play with the taps.
I can relate with the spirits to. Its made for a strong and active, but odd and not altogether pleasant ritual year.
On the human senses as short term predictors. Smell's a pretty good one. If I can smell the deer, wild roses, or cow pastures, in the morning. Then its likely to rain. I can smell the deer grazing throught the window right now and betting it will hit before long.