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If you remember nothing but the word hygroscopic you are well on your way to understanding how the Tell Tale Twig works. Hygroscopic is a substance’s ability to absorb water from its surroundings.

All plants need water to carry on their life. Water moves freely through plants to carry nutrients, eliminate waste, and perform a multitude of other important survival tactics. The TTTwig is an excellent example of these skills plus serves as a perfect visual of how wood reacts to moisture in air.

While our wooden Twig is hygroscopic — busy absorbing water — it also is self- regulating. This remarkable system is called homeostasis.

Homeostasis is when the Twig not only absorbs water, but also releases water molecules from its cells. It is the Twig’s way of adjusting to different surrounding conditions; humidity, temperature, wind, chemical changes, and more. In short, the Twig is constantly taking in moisture or releasing it in conjunction with the amount of water present in air in order to maintain a balance. All living things do this. But what is particularly captivating about the Twig is that it does not lose any of these remarkable abilities even when harvested!

Our wooden Twig living on its tree, moves up and down in its balancing act of homeostasis. This physical response to its environment is how it talks about the weather — and is why many “twig watchers” tell of observing their twig for thirty or forty years, reporting its accurate weather predictions!


Air is made up of: 78% Nitrogen (N2)
21% Oxygen (O2)
0.03% Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
0.0005 Hydrogen (H2)
and Trace Elements of Argon, Neon,Helium Krypton, Xenon ...

Water is the biggest variable in air. We see it as rain and snow, and feel it as humidity.

H2O; moisture, in air affects us as well as our Twig and its multitude of cousins. We are talking about humidity.

Humidity is measured in two ways: Absolute and Relative.

Relative Humidity: A ratio expressed in % of amount of moisture in the atmosphere relative to amount present if air was saturated. (Relax. It all comes together on Humidity and Dew Point chart to follow.)

Absolute Humidity: A measure of moisture in a given volume of air regardless of temperature. Usually, absolute is measured as grams of moisture per cubic meter of air. That said, think of a gang of water molecules running around in a cubic meter, or in motion and crammed in a phone booth!

red phone booth

Air and water molecules are always in motion. In “dry weather” water is taken up as vapor meaning, that vapor is going skyward. This is what is customarily known and referred to as HIGH PRESSURE.

When this risen vapor, in our phone booth, eventually meets its saturation point, it falls back to earth as rain and we experience what is known as LOW PRESSURE.

We feel the difference of a high pressure front, and that of a low pressure front. Our bodies adjust to our environment. And so does our Twig. This is when it “talks” 24/7, merrily moving with nature’s rhythms.

When a HIGH PRESSURE time, your Twig is Up, showing fair weather. When it is a LOW PRESSURE front, your Twig is Down, showing foul weather.

Humidity and Dew Point Chart

Humidity in g/m3

10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
-20°C 0.11 0.22 0.32 0.43 0.54 0.65 0.75 0.86 0.97 1.08
-15°C 0.16 0.32 0.48 0.64 0.81 0.97 1.13 1.29 1.45 1.61
-10°C 0.24 0.47 0.71 0.95 1.18 1.42 1.65 1.89 2.13 2.36
-5°C 0.34 0.68 1.02 1.36 1.71 2.05 2.39 2.73 3.07 3.41
0°C 0.48 0.97 1.45 1.94 2.42 2.91 3.39 3.88 4.36 4.85
5°C 0.68 1.36 2.04 2.72 3.4 4.07 4.75 5.43 6.11 6.79
10°C 0.94 1.88 2.81 3.75 4.69 5.63 6.57 7.51 8.44 9.38
15°C 1.28 2.56 3.84 5.12 6.4 7.68 8.96 10.24 11.52 12.8
20°C 1.72 3.45 5.17 6.9 8.62 10.35 12.07 13.79 15.52 17.24
25°C 2.3 4.59 6.89 9.19 11.48 13.78 16.08 18.37 20.67 22.97
30°C 3.03 6.05 9.08 12.11 15.13 18.16 21.18 24.21 27.24 30.26
35°C 3.95 7.89 11.84 15.79 19.74 23.68 27.63 31.58 35.52 39.47
40°C 5.1 10.2 15.29 20.39 25.49 30.59 35.69 40.79 45.88 50.98
45°C 6.52 13.05 19.57 26.1 32.62 39.15 45.67 52.2 58.72 65.25
50°C 8.28 16.56 24.84 33.11 41.39 49.67 57.95 66.23 74.51 82.78

Now that you have the Table before you, let’s take an example to work with.

Please remember that the table is in Centigrade, but it can also be worked in Fahrenheit or both if you do the math or look at the chart.

F=20C X 9/5 + 32 = 68 Fahrenheit. (20 C =68 F)

Taking the example of -20 Centigrade note how little water is in the air at -20 centigrade. At 10% the relative humidity is .11 grams. A guy can freeze and dehydrate at the same time!

Look at -20 C with 100% relative humidity of 1.08 grams. If you can squeeze out the best part of a gram of water per cubic meter (G/M3), you may eventually have enough for an ice cube.

Now let’s go to 20 C where 10% relative humidity is 1.72 grams and at 100% the max absolute humidity 17.24. That is @ 68 F. Big difference in amount of water in air!

We feel this, and our body’s homeostasis adjusts!

What happens when, after a nice sunny day, temperature go down during night hours? No matter what the relative humidity is, cooler air can not hold the same amount of moisture. An afternoon at 25C and a morning at 10C with 70% relative humidity means our G/M3 goes down (I like G/M3, sounds like a British intelligence agency) @10.45 grams. Like fairy dust in Peter Pan, it is over everything outdoors as dew. Condensation.

While all this is going on, and you are sleeping, you may not be aware that your body is still reacting, but your twig is most definitely alert and reacting to moisture and temperature changes throughout the night.

And if you wonder if the Twig works when temps are below freezing, the answer is YES!

Cells and Tissues

Lets get down to basics: the Cell. We all have them. All life forms are made up of cells and tissues. Cytology is the study of cells while Histology is the study of tissues.

plant cell diagram

The Twig’s plant structure is made up of many multi-layered cells. Twig cells, like all cells, are covered with membranes — protective coverings that control the movement of water and other materials going in and out. The Twig has layers of connected cells. This intricate network is known as “tissue”. Bark is a tissue, and inside the bark is another tissue, then another, etc., etc.

What is interesting about the Twig is that the rows of cell tissue on the bottom side of a Balsam branch are larger than those at its top side. These larger cell tissues therefore, take in more water than their smaller cell counterparts.

When the Twig is growing on the tree, its larger bottom cells take up more water. This causes the Twig to bend upward. But as moisture conditions change and become drier, water is released causing these same bottom cells to shrink and the Twig branch to sag.

Folk lore credit the Native Americans for figuring this out many years ago. They observed the Twig’s movements and came to understand what it was telling them. We can visualize indigenous people planting their crops in spring and heading to the ocean to eat oysters in the summer while smartly also avoiding biting insects. They observed nature, they kept track, listened, and read the signs. The Balsam branch was no small part of telling them when to plant and what weather conditions to expect.

As early mankind paid attention to nature; looked to clouds, trees, water, and the phases of the sun and moon in order to survive and determine the best outcome of their pursuits, we can certainly do the same!


plant cell diagram

When your Twig was harvested, its bark was removed. Bark or no bark, the wood’s reaction to moisture in the air continues. Removing its “girdle” of bark simply allows the Twig more freedom of movement and to be more easily observed.

TTTwigs are 14 to 16 inches long, and will arch from an extreme of one foot to two feet telling us what nature is doing. They last for years and keep telling the weather.

When your TTTwig is placed outdoors and merrily moving, it is hung upside down to make its actions more visible and easily understood. This esthetic arrangement helps our human mindset to better accept that when the Twig points up, we see a smile, (experience high pressure), and the weather is FAIR. When the Twig points down, we see a frown (experience low pressure), and the weather is FOUL.

TTTwig has many tales to tell. This is just one.

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Damariscotta, ME 04543

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