Why don't we let the old weather signs go, at last, and put all our faith in meteorology? Because meteorology isn't on the ground. -- The Old Farmer's Almanac
My grandfather was not a learned man.
A horseman and farmer, he did not have the benefit of a college education. In fact, his public school experience was said to be minimal.
But he knew the answers to other mysteries.
He knew when to sow and when to reap. He knew the cycles of the land and the sun and the moon.
In short, he knew what so many of your grandfathers knew, too. That nature will advise you if you only pay attention.
That's just one of the reasons I anticipate the latest edition of The Old Farmer's Almanac, which comes out this week.
Between its familiar yellow cover pages are the charts and numbers and arcane symbols that reveal the phases of the world around us. I'll admit, it looks complicated.
For an easier task there are the unusual features that make the almanac one of my favorites.
How to read palms. -- I learn that my life line is so faint I was probably lucky to make it through high school. (No kidding.) But I'm also advised a cheerful disposition can overcome this condition. (I smile.)
Home remedies for pets -- Did you know that aspirin is poisonous to cats?
Twelve riddles I couldn't answer.
Ten recipes that will make you the talk of the family reunion -- The pecan pie bars look great.
Seven ways to win an "eating contest." -- Hint: If you're eating eggs, just swallow them, don't chew. If one gets stuck, swallow another one. They'll both go down.
The sky's brightest stars of 1999 -- Algol in the constellation of Perseus.
The Nine Most-Wanted Time Capsules -- Did you know that when President Gerald Ford showed up in 1976 to dedicate a bicentennial time capsule containing the signatures of 22 million Americans, organizers (and the president) discovered the time capsule stolen?
The history of the Grand Ole Opry -- It got its name because it once followed a grand opera presentation on a Nashville radio station.
But most important are the weather predictions.
For example, the almanac predicts November through March will be cooler and drier than normal. (But look for Masters Week to be hot and dry.)
And then there are the moon signs. Weeding and plowing are best done when the moon occupies the sign of Aries, Gemini, Leo, Sagittarius or Aquarius. (But "Avoid indecision when under the Libra moon.")
Nature continues to tell us what to do.
We only have to learn its language, and the almanac furnishes an annual translation.
Maybe this will be the year I learn to listen, making a connection not only with the world around me, but the grandfather I've missed for 40 years.
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