The Weather Tree
History of the Weather Tree
The idea for the Weather Tree came from an account of Chinese family life written by an American woman staying with a Chinese family in 1920. (Waln, Nora. The House of Exile. Reprinted and available from Amazon).
She recalls helping the lady of the house prepare paints for use in the "Chart of the Lessening of the Cold". This was an annual record kept as an aid to garden and farm work.
Each year she painted a plum tree on a silk scroll, giving it nine branches and each branch nine twigs. The tree was decorated with leaf buds in brown, green and silver and the shadow of a pink blossom was painted on each of the eighty-one twigs. After the winter solstice one blossom was painted each day according to the weather.
A companion scroll recorded the harvest for the corresponding summer and autumn so that the effect of the winter weather on crops could be seen at a glance.
Scrolls recording the weather in this form had been kept continuously in this family for twenty-two generations and were stored in a pair of cabinets of black wood carved with garden and farm scenes.
Whether the keeping of such records was a widespread practice or peculiar to this one household is not known.