Posted by: penpatience | September 1, 2015



NOTE: “A Lady of the Light,” my non-fiction article, is scheduled for publication in the November-December 2015 issue of the Lighthouse Digest –

Writers Words: Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” —Anton Chekhov





Many times when I begin an organizational clean-up I’m surprised at what I find. This was the case when I recently dumped a cabinet filled with inherited memorabilia, old maps, garden catalogues plus “stuff” that was temporarily stowed “for now.” When I came across a really old Farmer’s Almanac that belonged to my mother, I left everything on the living room floor and began thumbing through it.

The cover of the Almanac indicated it was the 182nd Anniversary (1792-1974) edition by Robert B. Thomas. Price: 60 Cents. There were 176 pages including Planting Tables, Zodiac Secrets, Recipes and 16 regional weather forecasts—also featuring astronomical tables, tides, holidays, eclipses, etc.  I was enthralled!!! The rest of the afternoon slipped away; the carpet remained covered with strewn possessions.

Following are random excerpts from this great Almanac:

An earlier Zodiac fact: Horoscope followers might be interested to note Zodiac signs are assigned body parts.  Aries-head and face; Taurus-throat and neck; Gemini-shoulders, lungs,  arms; Cancer-breast and stomach; Leo-heart; Virgo-lower intestines; Libra-loins; Scorpio-generative organs; Sagittarious-thighs; Capricornus-knees; Aquarious-legs; Pisces-feet. (Note the earlier spellings)

The Language of Umbrellas: “There is a language of umbrellas as well as of flowers. For instance, place your umbrella in a rack and it will indicate that it will change owners. To open it quickly in the street means that somebody’s eye is going to be put out; to shut it, that a hat or two is to be knocked off. An umbrella carried over a woman, when a man is getting nothing but the drippings of the rain, signifies courting; when the man has the umbrella and the woman the drippings, it indicates marriage.”

Ads from various church bulletins:

This evening there will be a meeting in the north and south end of this church. The children may be baptized at both ends.

Tuesday at 7 P.M. there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk please come early.

Wednesday the Ladies Aid Society will meet and Mrs. Johnson will sing “Put me in my little bed” accompanied by the minister.

And of course the weather forecast for 1973-74

“The weather for 1974 will not be as eventful as the unusual weather of 1973 (thank the good Lord!). While The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted unusual record-breaking weather, Mother Nature took a hand and gave the eastern half of the country an extremely warm, wet, snowless, flood-ridden winter, which continued with a wet spring right up to the extraordinary floods in the east on July1…..Tornados in Texas and Oklahoma in mid-May;…….a Green Christmas on the East Coast, but a White Christmas in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states. Florida resort areas will be cooler than normal in December and January but nice in February and March.”

The almanac also contained Wind Chill Tables, most disturbed Periods for Radio Transmissions, the Northern New England Skiing Forecasts, Tide Corrections, Killing Frosts and Growing Seasons, and Eclipses for 1974.There was an exceptional article on the extinction of the passenger pigeon—“the earth’s last passenger pigeon trembled quietly, slowly closed her eyes…and fell from her perch, dead at 29 years of age.” (“Lest We Forget the Passenger Pigeon” by George W. Pothier)

And yes, our forebears chewed, nibbled, drank, and ate various barks, roots and seeds from the woodlands. It’s mentioned these snacks are still available by searching and gathering them.  I couldn’t resist sharing this recipe:

Candied Wild Ginger Root:  Ingredients: 2 cups of processed ginger root, 2 cups sugar.

Before using the dried wild ginger root, simmer short rootstock pieces for at least an hour or until tender.  Boil together (sugar and ginger root) for half an hour. Drain. Let dry for one or two days. Roll in granulated sugar. Store in tight jars. Use for pungent chewing, nibbling or flavoring.

And finally—Poetry

The spirits of the North were out last night,

Weaving their wizard spells on plain and hill;

The moon arose and set and gave no light,

The river freezing in the reeds grew still;

The shuddering stars were hid behind the cloud,

And all the hollow winds were wailing loud. – Hildreth –January 1974

Readers: The Old Farmers’ Almanac is still published and available. The official site:








  1. Thanks for the nostalgia. Really like the picture


  2. Thank you Joe. Glad you enjoyed it.


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