The Secret World of Weather is a landmark book that goes beyond the forecast, to change our very idea of what weather is. The weather does not just blanket an area: it changes as you walk through the woods, or turn down a street. You’ll discover distinct micro-climates on opposite sides of a tree – and even beneath a blade of grass. By reading the weather, we begin to understand how it shapes our cities, woods and hills. You’ll never see your surroundings the same way:
- Listen as crickets chirp faster, as the temperature rises
- Spot how snowflakes shrink with colder air
- … or grow just before they stop falling
- Learn why pine cones close up, in high humidity
To learn how the weather works is actually pretty good to know, for many reasons. Obviously you can know whether to pack a jumper or coat. But learning about our clouds and skies, and how snow and rain and thunder works, makes for an awe and amazement at the natural world. Anyone who has sat under the stars on a dark night and looked up, tends to think more on what our planet is all about, rather than people obsessed with celebrities and TV.
The weather can be very changeable, depending on where you are. England in theory should be as cold as Scandinavia in winter. But the warm Gulf Stream means a lot of very cold weather is missed.
Why TV weather presenters take so long to read the weather is quite the mystery, although most are high qualified. The Met Office is the world expert and can clear up a few mysteries that you may wonder about:
- Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning. This (from the Gospel of Matthew) is true, as red skies appear when high pressure appears from the west, so it’s fine the next day. Red sky next morning means high pressure moved east, so good weather has gone.
- Rain before 7, fine by 11. It may appear that way, but it’s not true. It’s just as our weather changes so much, it’s become an old wives tale.
- When it’s about to rain, cows lie down. There is no proof that cows are sensitive to the moisture in the air. The Met Office says it could just be that the cows are having a rest!
- Pine cones open, when good weather is upon us. This is true. Pine cones open in dry weather due to humidity, then close when it rains.
Author Tristan Gooley is a writer, navigator and explorer. He has pioneered a renaissance in the rare art of natural navigation, and led expeditions in five continents. He has walked and studied the methods of tribal peoples in remote regions of the planet, and is the only living person to have both flown solo and sailed single-handed across the Atlantic.
No doubt GPS systems are useful for navigating some places and up mountains, but sometimes it’s good to get back to nature! Tristan Gooley is your expert in charge here. He’s one of the world’s top experts in using nature to find your way (like England’s version of Crocodile Dundee!) His site The Natural Navigator is superb, and you can even sign up for quizzes to learn how to find your way using a puddle, tree or the clouds! He is also the author of several books including The Natural Navigator on how to find yourself out of a hole by using the simple question ‘Which way am I looking?’ With Tristan’s help, you can find your way – from the feel of a rock to the look of the moon!
- The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs shows how to read the clues in the natural world. The roots of a tree indicate the sun’s direction and a passing butterfly can hint at the weather. A sand dune reveals prevailing wind, and the scent of cinnamon suggests altitude. Tristan shares over 850 tips for forecasting and learning more about the natural world, to help you walk in the country or city, along a coast or by night. The ultimate resource on what the land, sun, moon, stars, plants, animals and clouds can reveal – if you only know how to look. on, stars, plants, animals, and clouds can reveal-if you only know how to look!
- How to Read Water is also by Tristan. He can show you over 700 clues, signs and patterns to spot dangerous water in the pitch black (with the help of a clock face), forecast the weather from waves, decipher wave patterns on beaches and find your way with puddles.
- The Natural Navigator is the 10th anniversary edition of this popular book. Tristan blends natural science, myth, folklore and a history of travel to show how to find your way using nature, from the feel of a rock to the look of the moon. Find north by looking at a puddle and use natural signs to navigate the open ocean or in the heart of the city. Packed with beautiful illustrations for an instrument-free journey of fascinating stories.
Tristan has visited five continents, climbed mountains the world over, sailed small boats across the ocean, and walked with and studied with the methods of the Tuareg, Bedouin and Dayak, in earth’s remote places. He is also a Fellow the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Geographic Society.
I’d like to show you how to make a compass, by looking at the size of tree leaves. Sun leaves are more common on the southern side and on the outermost twigs in the northern hemisphere. Shade leaves are more common on the northern side and inner branches. The two leaves were taken in late July from the same black popular tree, only a few metres apart. They are found near water, so when I found this one in Sweden, I knew I would find a stream nearby. Tristan
what is a compass?
Lily Charmed recycled silver compass earrings
A compass is simply a tool to find your way, that was invented to make use of the fact that Earth is like a giant magnet, and the needle always points north to find directions. Using lines of magnetic force, the metal always arrange themselves along these lines. The magnetic poles are not the same as the North and South poles, as the compass always points to the magnetic North Pole, so has to adjust to find ‘true north’ (unless it’s a gyrocompass which big ships use to find their way).
Compasses were first invented to navigate at sea, but today they are extensively used by practitioners of feng shui. This is a very complicated ‘earth science’ (that does not require poor goldfish to be stuck in bowls). Like most things, this ancient practice has been hijacked to sell pretty expensive trinkets. Expert Kartar Diamond is not a fan of practitioners that don’t use compasses, and says that to paint your door red or install a water fountain when you don’t know what you’re doing, could make things worse. She says telling people to ‘balance their homes’ by adding a little of each element is like ‘taking everything in the medicine cabinet, when you don’t know what’s wrong with you’. The growth of ‘fake feng shui’ has caused many fish to be exploded out of their homes with dynamite, to be imported into homes where self-absorbed people employ expensive feng shui practitioners, with no proper training. If you need running water, use a fountain.
The unseen magnetic field can be calculated with timing of construction, and what is captured inside (once the ceiling and roof are complete) has enormous influence on occupants. Ancient masters who understood this could have received a Nobel prize for such a discovery, I find it amazing that a group of geniuses figured this out so long ago. The ancient compass can tell if something is buried underground, if there are underground metals, bones, water, underground steams or even presence of a ghost! Kartar Diamond