James HowellStaff Writerjhowell@civitasmedia.com
February 27, 2013
With four beans left in his jar, Joe Mullis, an Ashe County native and employee at Parker Tie Co, predicts more snowy weather before winter’s end using his traditional, time-honored methods.
“Winter’s winding down, but it ain’t over,” Mullis.
Mullis also said poor weather in early March indicates nice weather by the month’s end. This is based on a old mountain saying: “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb,” said Mullis.
Mullis said this year’s prediction has been pretty accurate so far, and according to him, his predictions average out to be 90 percent accurate.
To predict winter snowfall, Mullis uses a unique method passed down through his family stretching back to the Native Americans.
Each morning in August, Mullis visits a secret location at roughly 3:45. Mullis has placed landmarks on the land, and uses them to measure how thick the morning fog is.
If Mullis notices a light fog, he adds one small bean into a jar, and if he notices a heavy fog, he places a large bean into his jar. If the morning is clear or raining, Mullis doesn’t place a bean into his jar.
On Sept. 1, Mullis counts the beans in his jar. For every large bean, Mullis predicts a storm that will result in over four inches of snow fall. For every small bean, he predicts a snowfall that will covor the ground, but not exceed four inches.
According to Mullis, his jar still contains three large beans and one little bean.
Mullis didn’t share his methods to gain recognition or fame. Rather, Mullis wanted to make sure members of the community were ready for the coming winter.
“One year, every T.V. and radio station talked about what a mild winter we would have,” said Mullis. In fact, he said one T.V. broadcast reported it could be the year the mountains didn’t have any snowfall.
However, Mullis’ bean method didn’t agree.
“The signs pointed toward a bad winter, and it came true,” said Mullis.
“When it came true, people were angry,” said Mullis. However, his prediction drew the attention of many community members.
“The next September, people lined up at the door asking about the snow,” said Mullis.
Before long, people began visiting Mullis at Parker Tie Co. to ask about local legends and folklore in addition to asking him about his winter predictions.
Mullis said his predictions had “almost became a lost art,” and is glad people have a renewed interest in his prediction methods, along with the county’s history.
“It makes me feel good; I know that a part of history won’t die out,” said Mullis.
Mullis’ prediction for this winter has been fairly accurate, but the next couple months will show how accurate his prediction was. Regardless, Mullis has impacted the community by renewing locals’ interest in mountain culture.