Every March 22, exactly at sunrise, about the time we find out whether the groundhog’s winter prediction came true, Weldon Crim dons moccasins, turquoise jewelry and a headdress with imitation eagle feathers, and takes note of the wind direction on his Lazbuddie farm.
If the wind is blowing east to west, as it was on Saturday morning, it means the region can expect a “normal” amount of rainfall from spring until summer’s end, he said.
“About 16 inches,” Crim predicts this year.
He said he keeps records and he’s right about 80 percent of the time.
The annual ritual, which goes back more than 125 years in his family, used to include a ceremonial fire and witnesses who recorded the moment with photos. Now, there’s a county burn ban and “it’s usually so cold, nobody wants to go with me,” he said.
He carries on anyway, dressed in honor of the Native Americans he said taught his grandfather about the secret of predicting rain in the late 1800s.
After determining the wind direction — west to east is the worst, historically predicting a bad year for corn and buffalo due to drought conditions — he drives back to Clovis to report his findings. He always stops at Joe’s Boot Shop on Mabry Drive and Wayne Martin’s antique shop, at 515 N. Prince, because they want the news as quickly as possible.
He also relays information to the newspaper, which helps spread the word.
Some might question the political correctness of Crim’s attire for the gig, but he said he’s never heard complaints from Native Americans about his ritual. He does hear complaints sometimes — mostly from farmers if the news is bad.
Once a woman was upset when she found out he’d predicted the growing season would be “dry as an old maid’s kiss.”
“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it,” she scolded.
His grandfather, Taylor Crim, ran away from home when he was 14 and married into a Plains Indian tribe, Weldon Crim reports, and that’s when the forecasting run began.
John William Crim carried on his dad’s tradition beginning in 1899, according to newspaper archives.
A story in the March 22, 1964, Clovis newspaper reported J.W. Crim made his 65th annual forecast based on “an old Indian legend.” Crim predicted a dry year that spring after discovering the wind was from the southwest.
“Look out farmers,” he warned, “it is gonna be rough.”
Weldon Crim took over the job in 1980 when his dad died.
He’s 78 now, and said Tuesday no family member has expressed interest in continuing the tradition after he’s gone.
No, he’s not sad about that.
“Life’s too short to be sad,” he said.
David Stevens is editor for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org