in my humble opinion

Fall fell

Or ‘How the Woolly Bear Got its Stripes’

Posted 10/3/23

Don’t shoot the messenger, but summer has officially drawn to a close. I’m loath to admit it myself, but there you have it, folks. Fall fell. Cooler temps are already upon us, hay bales …

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in my humble opinion

Fall fell

Or ‘How the Woolly Bear Got its Stripes’


Don’t shoot the messenger, but summer has officially drawn to a close. I’m loath to admit it myself, but there you have it, folks. Fall fell. Cooler temps are already upon us, hay bales dot the landscape and the almighty prognosticator of white-stuff-to-come has made his (her?) declaration.

I bring up the banded woolly bear each year at this time, because I think she (he?) is more accurate than (say it ain’t so!) the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and I’ll tell you why.

According to my online research, the almanac will only state publicly that its method is an “exclusive mathematical and astronomical formula that relies on sunspot activity, tidal action, planetary position (astrology) and many other factors.” But how accurate is it?

The heavy tome—which claims to be “80% accurate” in its forecasts—relies on secret formulas to create its predictions. However, in-depth research into past predictions shows “only about half” of the forecasts produced by the almanac were correct. So says the Google.

“Get prepared for oodles of fluffy white throughout the season,” the almanac warns. “Keep a shovel at the ready early, especially in the Northeast, where snow will arrive beginning in November with storms, showers and flurries continuing through the start of spring.” Oh dear.

Enter the fuzzy wuzzy woolly bear, which isn’t haughty at all. I discovered one inching its way across the road the other day, and after admonishing That Dog Named Gidget (“Drop it!”), snapped a pic and whipped out my phone to look up the results.

The nice people at have this to say: “According to folklore, the amount of black on the wooly bear in autumn varies proportionately with the severity of the coming winter in the locality where the caterpillar is found. The longer the black bands, the colder, snowier and more severe the winter will be.”

After a quick comparison, I breathed a sigh of relief and, armed with a prediction of my own, headed off to Seminary Hill in Callicoon, NY, where the WJFF Radio Catskill Community awards were slated to be presented.

Honoring the Catskill Art Space, the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, the North American Cultural Laboratory, the Shandelee Music Festival, the Wayne County Arts Alliance and the Weekend of Chamber Music, special recognition was also given to Harold Tighe from the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop and Franklin Trapp of the Forestburgh Playhouse. If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is—but there are so many deserving organizations and individuals in the region that I thought it best to quote WJFF general manager Tim Bruno’s thoughts on the proceedings.

“We are fortunate to have so many arts organizations in our area,” Bruno said, “and on behalf of all of us at Radio Catskill, we are so proud of these individuals and institutions for their impact on education, the local economy and most importantly—community well-being.”
As each honoree accepted their award, I snapped a photo and showed them a pic of my wooly bear, whispering “Don’t fret, it’s gonna be OK,” as they shook their heads and wandered away, undoubtedly wondering what was wrong with me.

Thinking I might be “sharing” too much with the general public, I made a mental note to hold back with the caterpillar chatter and headed out on Friday night to the premiere of the Big Eddy Film Festival (BEFF), now in its 12th year.

There was a full roster of events and films to check out, and I caught a few fantastic movies and documentaries, but as usual, I was drawn to the young folks and what they’ve been up to. On Saturday, I left the dog at home and took my seat for the “Kids Make Film” series of shorts, featuring Icehouse Arts productions “Camp Scout” and “The Making of Perry Hotter and the Magical Magic” along with Sullivan West Elementary film student projects “Why?” and “The Mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.”

“Make no mistake,” I told Gidget when I got home. “These kids are really making movies, not just goofing around. There are some really impressive elements to their work,” I explained, as the dog gnawed on a chair leg (she’s teething) and wagged her impressive tail. I gave her a boney and elaborated about the sets, scripts, costumes, sound design and editing, leaving out little as the dog pretended to care.

What’s more important (IMHO) are the people who do care. The teachers, instructors and mentors who give so freely of their time and expertise, sharing the knowledge and skills that they so willingly, happily, joyfully pass down to nurture the next generation of filmmakers. It’s meaningful; I could see that joy reflected in the faces of all who participated.

Thanks to the herculean efforts of those who create the Big Eddy Film Festival, the future of filmmaking looks bright. Now if I can just convince a group of kids to make a movie about the woolly bear for next year’s BEFF. Hmmm.

For more info on the subjects at hand, go to, and visit Need more puppy love? Follow her exploits @That Dog Named Gidget

Big Eddie Film Festival, Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, Catskill Art Space,


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