THE KANSAS CITY STAR
Printed October 13, 2010
Stacey Hatton Commentary:
For years I have been under the assumption the Farmer’s Almanac is the ever-accurate predictor of weather.
Not that I’ve even opened the book; nor am I trying to replace the beloved televised weather persons. Far from it. The last time I had anything on the TV other than Sesame Street and The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, those meteorologists were forcing “punny” jokes and making light of the excruciating heat. Great stuff!
Now that autumn is taking firm hold on us, talk of the turning of the leaves and the troubled Baldwin City Maple Leaf Festival will be heard across the heartland. Growing up 30 minutes from this booming metropolis (population: a buck fifty), we would head off to Baldwin City, Kan., to see the maple leaf’s patchwork quilt display of yellow, red and orange leaves rolling along the hillsides of winding back country roads.
Our family tradition was a special one shared by many tourists from neighboring towns and the Kansas City metro area. It was the only place where I could see in one day a parade of tractors, homecoming queens and miniature ponies decorated in streamers; eat turkey right off the leg bone, turn my lips blue with snow cones so sweet they made the cotton candy blush, and watch an odd style of theater called melodrama.
These were the days when the festival was scheduled at the right time of the year. The maple leaves were spectacular on this weekend every year. Did the councilpersons of Baldwin City use the Farmers’ Almanac to schedule this event? Did they talk to psychics and tarot card readers to determine when the leaves would turn? Whatever they did back then, it worked!
I don’t know if you have attended this fabulous family event and I truly recommend you take the kids, but for the last few years – pssst. Come closer – there have been green leaves at the festival!
Instead of hearing, “Oh, the foliage is phenomenal this year,” you hear, “What a nice turn-out there is!” “Can you tell me where the turkey legs are?” and repeatedly, “We missed the leaves by one weekend, I betcha! Can’t seem to predict it anymore.”
So I checked the Farmers’ Almanac to see why this town of very bright people can’t get the festival scheduled correctly anymore. The Almanac shows the majority of states have a listing of when the foliage will change in their area.
Then there’s us. “Kansas: Not applicable.” What?
Do these farmer fortune tellers not realize we have trees in Kansas? Or is our weather so unpredictable it can’t be mastered by the Almanac Brothers? It says that Missouri, which is only 30 miles away can be predicted: “Missouri (northern) Oct. 12-22 and Missouri (southern) Oct. 19-29,” but don’t bet on Kansas. We have some crazy weather. Poor Baldwin City! The cards are against them.
Don’t get me wrong, we will continue the tradition and take our children to the Maple Leaf Festival every year. You can find me curbside at the parade or in line for turkey legs.I’ll be the one commenting, “Good turn-out this year. Too bad about the leaves, though!”