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Waiuku Weather Stone Inspired Worldwide Search

Waiuku Weather Stone Inspired Worldwide Search


From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.

Ancient stones serving as weather forecasters can be found in many countries, as we discovered in an internet search that took us from Waiuku in New Zealand to Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the British Virgin Isles, the US, and finally back to Russell, Bay of Islands.

Visiting Auckland a few months ago, we were intrigued to see what we thought must be the world's most accurate weather forecaster, in the tiny township of Waiuku, 42 km (26 miles) south of Auckland. It's a huge stone, shaped like a brick, suspended from a hardwood gallows.

Beneath it is a notice with these words:


WAIUKU WEATHERSTONE
FORECASTING SERVICE


CONDITION OF STONE FORECAST
Stone is wet Raining
Stone is dry Not raining
Stone casts shadow Sunny
White on top Frosty
Can't see stone Foggy
Swinging stone Very windy
Bottom of stone wet Very high tide
Stone swinging or gone Tornado


When we returned to Australia, we wondered whether Waiuku's whimsical weather stone was unique, or merely a copy of similar tourist magnets in other countries.

A few questions to Google revealed that weather stones are common on Irish golf courses, and are also popular in Germany, Iceland, Bermuda and Canada.

Most of the notices carry similar wording, but one in Woerth, Germany, ends with these ominous words:

If the stone is upside down, it's the end of the world.
If the stone is gone, it's been stolen.

In Canada, a stone at the Sooke Region and Visitor Information Centre on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, must be suspended close to ground level, as the notice says:

When the stone is wet on one side, it means that a dog has recently passed by.

The forecast on the notice at Fort Scaur, in tropical Bermuda, says:

If ever it is white on top - believe it or not - it is snowing.

The Bermuda Insiders' website says: "Believe it or not, some visitors actually read this notice and nod very wisely, especially when they get to the part: 'When it jumps up and down there's an earthquake.' Don't be one of them, will you? And bear in mind that if a blob of white appears on top of it, that does not mean it's snowing. It never snows in Bermuda. A bird is likely to be the culprit."

A notice in Iceland, where snow is no novelty, reads:

If the stone is white on top, it is snowing.
If the stone is jumping up and down, there is an earthquake.
If you can't see the stone, it is either dark or it has been stolen.

One of our Kiwi friends suggested that the comical forecasts might have originated in Ireland. She could be right, as we found this information (addressed to someone else named Eric) on an Irish online notice board:

Anyone heading to Ireland to play golf and not sure about the weather, should look out for a weather stone, normally a hanging stone on a rope about 3 foot wide...

Barry Downs, who live is Kimberley, South Africa, says: "I've seen numerous such 'weather stations' in this country, including one from our recent trip down to the Drakensberg Mountains.

"The first I ever saw was supposedly from Australia and comprised nothing more than a piece of string - not sophisticated like the technically advanced models which have rocks attached to them."

Next, we found a stone that may be the daddy of them all - it's said to be more than 500,000 years old.

Discovered in the British Virgin Islands, it's now proudly displayed at St. Michaels Marina in Maryland (US). Once a ship building town, St. Michaels, "only a leisurely drive from Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Richmond and New York," claims to be the premier destination on the Chesapeake Bay for cruising boaters.

The stone displayed at St. Michaels Marina is a smooth grey boulder about the size of a football, hanging from a notice-board that proclaims:

Captain Frank's WEATHER STONE

This stone, thought to be over 500,000 years old, churned and polished by the waves
of the Atlantic Ocean and transported from the British Virgin Islands, is an official and
highly accurate weather forecaster.

- If the stone is wet... it is raining
- A dry stone indicates... it is not raining
- If a shadow is beneath the stone... the sun is shining
- Should the stone be swinging... there's a strong wind blowing
- If the stone is bouncing up and down... there's an earthquake
- If it's white on top... it is snowing
- If the stone is expanding, it's getting warmer...
if contracting, it's getting colder
- If the stone appears fuzzy, you should probably walk, not drive, to your next destination

AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED BY THE RIGHT HONORABLE DREW WILLIAM LANDIS,
HONORARY MAYOR OF TORTOLLA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS.

We sent a draft copy of this story to St. Michael's Marina, Maryland, seeking permission to copy Captain Frank's photos. In reply, we received this email from Ilene Morgan & Capt. Frank:

Frank is delighted that you like his weather stone. He got the idea during a Bermuda holiday where we found the weather stone at Fort Scaur. A later holiday in the BVI further gave birth to Capt. Frank's Weather Stone.

With the help of friends we were on holiday with, we gathered up about a dozen potential weather stones, scavenged for boxes and duct tape, and were amazed when security actually let us through.In response to their puzzled inquiries about our cargo, we said they were landscaping stones.

The weather stone story and legend then became fully developed after an evening spent with several friends and much good cheer, and is a much enjoyed attraction at the marina.

Our global search for the original weather stone began in New Zealand, and ended there too. We found "an Early Polynesian Weather Stone" hanging outside a store in Russell, Bay of Islands - another great fishing and boating centre.

Anglers and boaties always want accurate weather forecasts. That must be why they put so much faith in weather stones. We still don't know the name or nationality of the person who first dreamed of a weather stone and wrote a humorous forecast for it, or where the original stone may still be swinging on a windy day.

*************

This is one of 500 stories posted in The World's First Multi-National e-Book, http://bdb.co.za/shackle

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