Almanac provides little of everything

In this morning?s Ledger mail there arrived a complimentary copy of the 2013 Old Farmer?s Almanac. I buy one every year and there is more information in it than one might expect. The 2013 edition is no exception.

The first page states that this almanac contains, ?besides the large number of Astronomical Calculations and the Farmer?s Calendar for every month in the year, a variety of New, Useful and Entertaining matter.?

For instance, in addition to weather forecasts for all sections of the United States, there is a planting guide, based on the moon phases. My grandmother always planted by moon phase, as did my parents. Grandma always said it was easy to remember, ?You plant root plants (potatoes, carrots, etc) in the dark of the moon.? I never really knew just what the dark of the moon was, but the Almanac cleared up that question. The ?dark of the moon? is from the day after it is full until the new moon appears. This is also called the ?waning? period of the moon.

I guess I made the connection to ?dark? and underground as being one and the same. The trick is remembering when the dark of the moon begins.

There is also a handy guide to frosts and growing seasons for all the states, a boon to anyone who wants to grow anything.

Need to know when the tide is coming in or going out? Well, not here in Iowa, but if you pay a visit to either coast or any country where tides are a part of daily life, it is a good thing to know. Say you plan to visit Florida, or California, this winter. Whether or not you plan to dip your tootsies in the surf, you might want to look for goodies washed up by the tide. In that case it would be to your advantage to know when the tide is out so you would have the greatest amount of area to search for possible treasures. Someday I hope to find one of those glass Japanese fishing-net balls, although they have probably all been found by now and that opportunity is lost forever. One can always dream. Rest assured that I will check my Almanac tide tables before I go to the shore.

Have you always wondered why there are so many penalties in hockey? Or why parenting is so hard? You may find those answers in the Old Farmer?s Almanac. How about the answer to ?just who is a farmer anyway?? It?s in there.

There is a chart for the planets, when they are visible and where. There is also a list of holidays, and not just the ones for which most of us get to take the day off and still get paid.

So, you didn?t like the heat and dry conditions of 2012? There is an article on the activity of the sun, which warns that solar storms can adversely affect the earth, threatening satellites and electrical grids. There is much more to this story, including this line: ?Following ...decades of warning about ?global warming,? a cool spell may sound refreshing. Yet warnings of a possible ice age are daunting.? This is a must read!

On the more ridiculous side, how about a mock wedding with dogs as bride, groom, flower girl and minister? Or, this-?retailers removing dollar signs from posted prices??

Then there is the snippet of information such as ?83% more people want to see more companies support worthy causes,? and ?$1,276 is the average amount spent by Americans on travel annually.? Who cares, you say? Maybe you don?t care, but try dropping that tidbit into any conversation and folks will think you are SO informed!

Want to know how much value a mature shade tree adds to a home, or what percentage of people sort their trash, or what new perennials to buy? Check the little yellow book.

Here is my favorite: an article on phobias. Are you afraid of beards? You have pogonophobia. If you are afraid of men, you are suffering, ladies, from androphobia, though it doesn?t say that this is confined to the feminine gender. There is also fear of women called gynophobia. How many men have THAT malady, I wonder? If you are afraid of dirt, yes dirt, you may have rupophobia.

My favorite phobia, from which I certainly do NOT suffer, is a fear of long words called sesquipedalopphobia, so there!

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!! There are many more phobias listed, but I was afraid to read them all. Heh, heh!

There is information on sheep, should you be desirous of acquiring these wooly critters, as well as a gestation and mating table for most farm animals. Just read and you, too, can become a great farmer.

Also in this little gem is a table of measures and thirteen little known facts about the Battle of Gettysburg. 2013 is the 150th anniversary of this conflict that raged from July 1-3, 1863 after which 8,000 men lay dead with tens of thousands wounded. This information gleaned from the Almanac.

Birds do it and so do fish. Kiss, that is. Well, golly gee, I didn?t know that until I read it in the Old Farmer?s Almanac. According to information in this article, those who kissed their spouse before leaving for work missed less work due to illness and had fewer accidents on the way to work. Better pucker up!

Once you have looked at the weather predictions, the positions of the planets, and looked at the calendar to determine the best days to fish, you can head off to the nearest fishing hole and begin your vacation. If you plan to deep-sea fish, check those tide tables!

There is also help for photographers. If I want to capture the last rays of the sun on, say, the Grand Canyon walls, I can find the time for sunset in the OFA. Pretty cool stuff. Forget the Internet.

There are oddities, pertinent possum points, and more.

I don?t really know how one can get along for a whole year without the benefit of information to be found within the pages of this familiar yellow book, now in its 221st year.


Julie Johnston is photographer at The Ledger.