I’ve been listening to a book this week called First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen. She is one of those authors who writes rather poetically about kitchen witches and family secrets. She is also prone to cause and effect hyperbole inspired by natural magic and old wives tales. Her books are also romances, but I’ve mostly forgiven her for that because her characters are interesting and she throws some cool twists in the plot as her star-crossed lovers are drawn together.
But I’m not here to talk about that.
In the small town of Anywhere, USA that her story is set in, the fifteen-year-old protagonist uses an almanac to pin down the date of the first frost. The tale takes place in modern times with internet access, computers, and cell phones, but the family still uses the Farmer’s Almanac.
Boy, that was a blast from the past. When I was a kid growing up in the suburbs of Fort Lauderdale the Farmer’s Almanac seemed like a very old fashioned thing that only old fashioned people – like my parents and their siblings – bothered with. In fact, my Uncle Finn had one in his workshed hanging right next to the old-school pin-up calendar. Curiously my Aunt Nevada kept a current Farmer’s Almanac in the hall bathroom. Aunt Nene and Uncle Finn were married and lived in the same house, I could never figure out why they needed two. Though I did wonder if Aunt Nene knew about the one in the shed because I was pretty sure she didn’t know about the scantily clad women on the calendar.
I was also perplexed as to how the almanac could accurately predict weather events when it was just a book printed once a year, considering my father was always complaining how the weathermen on TV could not accurately predict sunlight at dawn. I wondered if the almanac was written by psychics, but my dad assured me it was very scientific — not a science he could explain, but very scientific.
So when I heard an author talking about the persistence of an accurate (and nice) Farmer’s Almanac in a modern setting I had to see if they still existed. They do. I think I might buy one just for fun. Though I should probably buy a Kindle version to maintain my geek cred.
The cover says it’s “Useful, with a pleasant degree of humor” and there’s another note on the seller’s page that it includes a hole for hanging up in your outhouse (string not included). This little book can tell you when are the best fishing days for your region and has instructions on how to clean your kitchen.
I find it crazy that in this new century people are still publishing the Farmer’s Almanac. Surely there’s an app for that by now. Unless the magic used to discern the weather so far in advance is strong enough to cause electronic devices to malfunction. I’m totally including a crate of these on one of my spaceships.
Don’t misunderstand me I’m glad it has survived, just marveling at it.
Have you run across a nostalgic piece of flotsam that you’d like to share with us? Are you familiar with the Farmer’s Almanac in particular and would like to trip down memory lane with me? Any thoughts on pin-up calendars? How about kitchen witches and eating flowers?
Almost forgot – you should be writing. Arrivals is due next Sunday the 29th by 11:45 pm (EST).