Around here, we figure autumn weather is here when the high temperatures go from the 90s to the 80s.

But at some point late this year, or possibly early next year, the weather will turn cold.

That's why I appreciate David Marshall sending me, from the Farmer's Almanac, "20 signs from nature of a hard winter ahead."

The almanac, published in Lewiston, Maine, where they really do have winter, says that while their weather predictions are based on "mathematical and astronomical formulas," these signs from nature were passed down from generation to generation "and are today’s bits of weather folklore:"

I won't run all 20, but here are a few "signs of a hard winter to come:"

"Woodpeckers sharing a tree; the early departure of geese and ducks; thick hair on the nape of a cow's neck; mice chewing furiously to get into your home; spiders spinning larger than usual webs and entering the house in great numbers; pigs gathering sticks; ants marching in a line rather than meandering, and squirrels gathering nuts early.

But the one that caught my attention, and was called "a true reader favorite" by the almanac, was the size of the orange band on the woolly bear caterpillar.

Folklore has it that a narrow band means a hard winter and a wide band means a milder season. Also, fuzzier than normal woolly bears are said to mean a very cold winter.

Caution: When checking caterpillars, avoid the stinging variety we have down here.

Leaving Broadway

A "running away from home" story from Keith Horcasitas, of Baton Rouge:

"As an 8-year-old, I got mad at my parents about not being able to go to the Prytania Theater with my buddies — I had done poorly on my report card at Holy Name of Jesus School in uptown New Orleans. So I told Mom and Dad I would run away.

"They wisely let me whine a lot, and pack up a little luggage container with some clothes. They wished me well as I went off to catch the Broadway bus in front of our house.

"As the bus approached the intersection of Broadway and Spruce, I slyly looked back to my house to see if my parents were worried about me.

"They were not on the porch, and I was too embarrassed to get on the bus as the driver asked me, 'So, young lad, where are you running away to?'"

A dog's life

Linda Champion says, "The stories about children threatening to run away reminded me of the time our dog Goo not only ran away, she brought her bed to the spot where her favorite friend placed a fan for her in a shaded area.

"It showed where her allegiance was."

Salty comment

Nobey Benoit continues our seminar on not-so-flat places:

"There are hills in south Louisiana, on Cote Blanche Island south of Baldwin. They were made when the salt domes on the island were formed, pushing the land up and creating the hills.

"The first time that I worked on the phone lines to the salt mine on the island, I was surprised to see those hills. To get to the island, you must cross the Intracoastal Canal via a ferry."

Nice People Dept.

Leatus Still thanks his neighbor Dave Stone:

"He realized I needed help after my knee replacement surgery, so every day he showed up to take me for a walk.

"I started on my walker, then my cane. Now I don't need my cane, but I have enjoyed his company and we are still doing our daily walks."

Special People Dept.

Bertha Mims Methe, of Covington, celebrates her 96th birthday Tuesday, Sept. 24. She is a former River Ridge resident.

Thought for the Day

From Smith Willis, as told to Davis Stoker: "He who laughs last didn’t get it.”

Magic words

Algie Petrere says this story's not about husband Andy, but it could be:

"My visiting father asked for the Wi-Fi password.

"'It's taped under the modem,' I told him.

"After failed attempts to log on, he asked, 'Am I spelling this right? T-A-P-E-D-U-N-D-E-R-T-H-E-M-O-D-E-M?'"

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.