Monday, February 5, 2018
The Magical Mysterious Farmer's Almanac
From as early as I can remember, the distinctive yellow booklet was a fixture in our household. Sometimes it just sat in the pile of other "reference" books on the kitchen counter, but sometimes dad would hang it from a nail in the mudroom where he sharpened his pencils and put on his boots before heading to work every morning. By the time I was 8 or 9, and with entertainment options in rural north-central Ohio somewhat sparse, I decided to have a look for myself.
At that point in my life, I knew the Almanac primarily from the semi-mystical pronouncements dad would make referencing it; "Going to be a cold January, according to the Almanac, but February should warm up a little," or "I guess we'd better stock up on coffee, Almanac says prices are going to double this year."
When I actually got around to pulling the book down off the nail, the appeal for me was a little different. I had always been fascinated by ads; magazine, newspaper, TV, heck, even the junk we got in the mail. The Old Farmer's Almanac is a veritable treasure trove of ads, and not just any ads. Ads for weird and exotic (to an 8-year old Midwesterner) products that you would never see in the Toledo Blade or even Weekly World News; automatic apple peelers, food dehydrators, and various types of oils, lotions and jewelry that helped improve your luck!
I still pick up an Old Farmer's Almanac every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's a wonderfully anachronistic relic in this age of iPhone and 24-hour weather channels. I no longer read it cover-to-cover the way I did as a kid, but I still skim through it on cold, dark winter nights seeking a little bit of old fashioned agrarian insight.
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