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Quick! Where would you go to discover that 2010 is the second after bissextile (leap year) and that until the Fourth of July we are in the 234th year of the Independence of the United States?
Right! The Farmers’ Almanac for the year 2010. That’s the first place I’d go to find out where we are bissextile-wise. It’s where everyone should go.
Late every summer the almanac arrives at my radio station mail box, buried in a pile of never-to-be-read memos, requests for publicity and eventually-to-be-skimmed listener letters. Yes, believe it or not, some listeners still write letters, feeling that their thoughts are much too weighty for a frivolous yahoo e-mail and can only be conveyed properly by the employees of the United States Postal Service.
But back to the Farmers’ Almanac.
At the top of its 2010 front cover the almanac lets you know that it’s been around – “Since 1818.” That was two years before Maine was even admitted to the Union. I like that.
It probably wont advance your career to know things like: we are in the second after bissextile year but if there’s ever an awkward pause in a conversation you might want to blurt that fact out and see if the other person isn’t impressed. There are no guarantees, it’s just a suggestion.
But the Farmers’ Almanac doesn’t just tell me about how long it’ll be until the next leap year. It tells me so much more. The almanac always has tips on how to save money, which is good. And even though I seldom follow their helpful tips it’s still comforting to know they’re there, if I ever smarten-up enough to use them.
Right there on the cover it also says: How to do more with less.
It reminded me of the Readers Digest covers that would have titles like: How to do a lot with a little. The next month the same author would have an article titled: How to do a whole lot with a whole little. The series would conclude with the author writing a piece titled: How to do a whole lot of lots with a whole lot of littles.
Even though I’m happy with my current hard-scrabble lawn where virtually every weed native to our region lives and thrives, I was also happy to read that the Farmers’ Almanac can tell me how to: “Grow a better lawn and garden.”
And how many publications do you know of that are edited by people called Philoms? A Philom is a lover of learning, in case you’re wondering. The Farmers’ Almanac is edited by Peter Geiger, Philom and Sondra Duncon, Philom. Founding Father Ben Franklin was also a Philom.
In the table of contents I discover they have sections telling me the best days to hunt in 2010 and the best days to fish. I don’t hunt as much as I used to these days but it’s still good to know that someone is keeping track of things like that. If I ever decide to go hunting in 2010 the Farmers’ Almanac is the first place I’ll check, to see when I should do it.
The Farmers’ Almanac gives you two-hundred pages: “Containing early America at its best, delightfully threaded through with a measure of good humor, amusing anecdotes, wise-old weather predictions, helpful hints and good reading for every member of the family done on a high moral plane.” That means you wont need a filter to assure inappropriate content.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is mainestoryteller@yahoo.com.
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