What is an Almanac?

I never quite “got” the purpose of an almanac until I took up fishing as a sideline hobby. I invested in some decent rods and reels, bought tackle on a par with the groceries and spent copious amounts of time gazing into the bay. Some days were good while others …well, they could have been spent more productively watching the grass grow.

Needless to say, guys who fish also talk. One of my fish-story-swapping-mates decided that I needed a fishing almanac and swore that it had helped him immeasurably and that I needed one too. Not wanting to miss out on the abundance that awaited me I made sure I picked up the latest copy with my next tackle order.

It was completely fascinating. High tides, low tides, full moons, no moons and the predictive “best” time to place a rod in the water. It even told you when to stay at home and put your feet up for the fishing that day was going to be ordinary at best.

As a newbie who had just discovered some ancient key I studied it dutifully. If the almanac showed that it was a bad day, I’d stay at home. If it were good, you would find me on the end of a rod somewhere facing into the ocean.

The question you’re begging to ask is, “Did it work?” Yes, and no. Sometimes the predictions were right and sometimes they were wrong. Sometimes the fish weren’t biting even when all the stars were aligned properly, my tongue was held the correct way and the moon couldn’t have got any bigger. I even ventured out on a few of those “bad days” and caught a bundle.

So, do almanacs work then or are they just ‘baloney’?

In a strict sense of what an almanac is, it is merely a forecast of prevailing conditions. Our study of the moon phases, tides, sunrises and sets and planetary movements has led us to understand some of the basic concepts of creation and an ordered universe that is fairly predictable. These events have helped us predict the weather, fishing times, plant growing conditions and even “presumably” relationship cycles.

However, an almanac is really just a best guess of what these events may affect. It’s like looking on the horizon and seeing a rain cloud, expecting rain, and then finding that it dissipates before it reaches you. We can make assumptions of what may occur from these events but it’s not pure science. Heck, the weather guy has a tough job forecasting what tomorrow may bring let alone what will happen over the next twelve months.

While a farmer’s almanac may seem like the most crucial piece of gardening hardware it really is no better than a weathervane on your roof, a barometer in the shed and a calendar with the phases of the moon dispayed upon it.

I know that some gardeners swear by these almanacs but I’m sure if you were to ask them to show you a record of where they worked and didn’t it would show that the almanac was not completely infallible. So, are they worth it? I think they have their place just as much as watching the weather guy try and explain his forecasts helps us plan our todays and tomorrows. But, I wouldn’t let them control what I do, and don’t do, in the garden.

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