The owner, Donnie Brown, offered me a copy of the 2014 Grier’s Almanac – the perennial staple of crop and weather forecasting published right here in Georgia since 1807.
Old timers swear by the almanac’s uncanny accuracy, so I decided to check the daily forecast for Tuesday, Feb. 11 (the night our big ice storm started).
The forecast: “snow and ice.” I was amazed.
In fact, of the 365 days in the year, Feb. 11 was the ONLY date where snow and ice were predicted.
How did they hit the nail so precisely on the head?
The almanac has a long and famous past, beginning with its creator, Robert Grier, a mathematician and astronomer who used celestial movements and phases of the moon to predict the weather.
He was born in Columbia County in 1782 and later moved to what today is Taliaferro County. A state historical marker near the Sharon community notes that “the remarkable astronomical calculations which led to the publishing of the almanac were made on the large boulders in the fields near this road.”
In a February 1899 profile published in the Jackson Argus newspaper in Butts County, Grier was characterized as “a talented man, but very odd,” and who was “eccentric and given to mental abstractions,” and who owned a huge library of astronomical textbooks, charts and atlases.
“He is described as being of medium height, not corpulent, but powerfully built,” the essay said. “His head was so unusually large that he was forced to have all of his hats made to order by a hatter of Augusta.”
Grier published his almanac until his death in 1848, and for many of those years it was printed in Augusta, by the Chronicle and Sentinel newspaper. It has been in continuous publication ever since.
Since it is unlikely they still make forecasts months in advance by stargazing, I called the current publisher and president, Bryan Bachler, who has operated Grier’s from his Atlanta home for 30 years.
He was happy to share how it’s done.
“A lot of it is pretty much guesswork,” he said. “And remember, it’s a regional publication, from Virginia to Texas, so when we predict precipitation, it will probably be happening somewhere.”
The almanac itself cautions folks not to rely too heavily on the predictions.
“No mathematician or astronomer can possibly cipher out the weather,” it says.
“As with the influence of the Zodiac, however, we put forth the best guesswork for the benefit of those who believe in it.”
Was it all a coincidence? If Grier were alive today, he’d be smiling broadly.
ROAST ON THE RIVER: Savannah Riverkeeper will hold its annual Roast on the River from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday at the River House, 1213 Old Plantation Road, North Augusta.
The event will include oysters from Bluffton Oyster Company, entertainment by the band AcostA and raffles for outdoor related items and opportunities.
Tickets are $35 per person or $50 per couple. Visit savannahriverkeeper.org or call (706) 826-8991.
CRACKERNECK OPEN: Aiken County’s Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area and Ecological Reserve will be open to the public on the first four Saturdays during March.
The final Saturday (March 29) will be reserved for a youth turkey hunt.
The site includes 10,470 acres owned by the U.S. Department of Energy in Aiken County, along the Savannah River and south of Jackson. Access is off Brown Road near U.S. Highway 125.
To request a map, call (803) 725-3663 or e-mail CaudellM@dnr.sc.gov.
COOKIN’ FOR KIDS: This year’s annual Cookin’ for Kids Weekend, scheduled for Saturday at Daniel Field, marks the event’s 25th year as a fund-raiser for Child Enrichment and the Child Advocacy Center.
Festivities begin at 7 p.m. Friday with a Kick-Off Party and Oyster Roast and Toast with fresh, steamed, roasted and raw oysters, gumbo from Crums on Central, chicken fingers, salad, desserts, beer, wine, a live auction and a performance by The Toasters. Admission is $35.
Saturday’s activities will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with cooking teams competing in a wild game, fish and BBQ cook-off that is judged by local community volunteers.
Cooking teams offer samples of their culinary creations. Past entrees have included fall-off-the bone BBQ and ribs, venison chili, fish tacos, alligator, catfish stew, dove, duck, bear, red fish, salmon, and shark.
Other activities include The Georgia Southern Wildlife and Raptor Program with shows at noon and 2:30 p.m., children’s games, arts and crafts and inflatables. Admission for ages 13 and over is $5; ages 3 to 12 is $3 and ages 2 and under are free.
For more details, call (706) 737-4631.