Old Farmers Almanac
I love the Old Farmer’s Almanac…I don’t necessarily take it as gospel but I do love the miscellany of STUFF that is in it. It is a veritable FOUNT of KNOWLEDGE of various off-beat and semi-useful pieces of information. I say semi-useful because some of the wisdom that this publication imparts, I would rather not have to actually have anything to do with like the advice on how to break up an animal fight (Cat-scratch fever is real, folks). I have to admit that I really don’t understand all of the astronomical calculations and tables that are the basis for the weather predictions that It is known for. I can grasp the hours of sunrise and sunset, moonrise and moonset; I can even determine what zodiac sign is being highlighted as the location of these celestial travels but I’ll be dipped if I know what the declination of the sun is or whether I care much about the high tides in Boston(The whole thing was originally intended for the east coast; in fact, the front page says, ”Fitted for Boston and the New England states, with special corrections and calculations to answer for all the United States.” )
The first compiler of all this information and prediction was Robert B. Thomas in 1792. No Google Weather back then, me buck-o; it was all proprietary information and formulas and such, although it probably had, from the beginning, the goal of “Containing, besides the large number of Astronomical Calculations and the Farmer’s Calendar for every month of the year, in a variety of New, Useful & Entertaining Matter. Well, I guess so!
Where else would one find a glossary of Almanac Oddities? Information is available on Ember Days, Midsummer Day, Dog Days, Lammas Day, Cat Nights (I checked this one out), Indian Summer, Halcyon Days(Something to do with calm weather so the kingfisher bird could brood in a nest on the waves) and—my favorite–Beware the Pogonip. When was the last time that you worried about the pogonip? Turns out that pogonip is frozen fog, an apparently fairly common occurrence in western mountain valleys. Breathing in fine ice needles was no fun for the Native Americans who gave it that name, which probably translates to something like, “Ouch! Gasp. Ouch! Gasp. Ouch! Gasp. Ouch!” There are some others , like Distaff Day and Three Chilly Saints Day(Sts. Gervais, Mamertus and Pancras, of course) that weren’t nearly as off-the-wall.
Many of the ads in The Old Farmer’s Almanac are pretty funny too. For only five dollars, you can get a Davis Hill Weather Stick (“the original” it says right in the ad) from PO Box 38, East Hardwick, VT 05836—plus shipping and handling. There is no further explanation in the ad and the picture in it simply shows a stick(Well, DUH) with a small shoot or branch coming off the side– two sticks, actually, one with the shoot bending up and sun shining, one with the shoot bending down and raindrops. One is left to draw one’s own conclusions, apparently. Minimum order : 2. On the same page, is a commercial advertisement for Leo’s Soap, All Natural Laundry Powder, Designed to save you money and provide you with the cleanest, softest clothes you’ve ever had! Only one tablespoon per load! Take THAT, Proctor & Gamble!
There are recipes. You can start getting ready for National Pie Day, January 23, 2014. There’s a recipe for a “fool-proof” (It’s been my experience that the fools can make child’s play of most products and procedures thus advertised) pastry recipe and two potpies, a quiche, a meat pie and a chocolate chess pie that all looked worth trying
And should you try all of them on a regular basis, turn to the section in honor of fitness expert Jack LaLanne(Remember him?) titled “100 Years of Weight Loss”. Jack was born in 1914 and at age 15 began the process of turning from a scrawny junk-food junkie (Not sure just what was considered junk food in 1929; McDonalds wasn’t even a glimmer in Ray Kroc’s eye at the time) to a nationally televised exercised guru (Where he was the originator of such pithy sayings as, “Don’t exceed the feed limit.” Or “Ten seconds on the lips, and a lifetime on the hips.” Some of the amazing feats of strength—and PR—that the 5”6” fruit and vegetable proponent accomplished were pretty amazing…like towing 70 boats carrying a total of 70 people through Long Beach(CA) Harbor for a mile and a half while handcuffed and shackled.. Try that the next time YOU turn 70.
And don’t miss the General Store in the back. The “famous ‘Little Sheller’” for doing green peas or beans or the commercial Huller offered by the Taylor Manufacturing Company could solve your gardening backlog problems. Or go to the Luck Shop.com for indispensible items like the “Lucky Lottery Hand Necklace”(“The Hand –with its special Drawing powers—helps Pull Out the Winning Numbers. Special All-Seeing Eye helps see the Numbers”). Lucky Gamblers MoJo Bags come in three strengths—extra strong, double power and triple strength. Pink Honey Oil is to be used on the body to make a wish –to influence others and get them to do as you want—for any situation. There are spiritual sprays and cleaners—only $5.95 each—to get good luck in a hurry, remove jinxes and make the devil run, get on a hot streak, break spells and curses, turn back/reverse evil(Whew, quite an order!). My personal favorite is Sprinkling Salts & Yard Dressing to STOP EVIL. At $5.00 for triple action to remove all evil, enemies and jinxes of yourself and your home & family, this stuff must be quite a bargain. Use inside, outside or both. Instructions included. Where was this stuff when I was teaching school?
I find it particularly interesting that all of this comes from CHURCH GOODS CO., with a disclaimer “We make no supernatural claims. All items sold as curios only. Full satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. RIIIIIIIGHT!