Poor Will’s Almanack for 2004

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Price: Signed by Bill Felker, USPS First Class Postage and Tax Included: $20.00

The Name

When I began almanacking in 1984, I wanted to choose a name that was different from the “farmer” associations of the current best-selling almanack. The logical choice seemed to be to reach back to America’s first and most famous almanack, Poor Richard’s Almanack, prepared throughout the latter part of the 18th century by Benjamin Franklin. Ben had many imitators back then, among them, a certain Poor Will. Although it has been almost 200 years since that Will tried to follow in Franklin’s footsteps, I thought it was not inappropriate for William (Bill) Felker to revive the name and the tradition, while making a clean break with the kinds of almanacks currently sold in this country today.

Monthly Features

Poor Will’s Almanack is divided into 15 sections, one for each month between October 2003 and December 2004. Each month contains the following sections in the following order:

Seasonal quotation

Almanack essay by Bill Felker

Phases of the moon

The sun’s progress

Planets

Stars

Shooting stars

Weekly weather (October 2003 – September 2004); Monthly

overviews (October 2004 – December 2004)

Frostwatch (April through October)

Seasonal counts (Wintercount – Springcount – Summercount –

Autumncount)

Hunting and fishing times

Seasonal calendar of events– all new for 2004

Wildflower calendar (March through September)

Farming and gardening by the moon

Allergy index

S.A.D. index

Almanack literature (reader stories)

 

The Almanack Essay

Traditional almanacks often contained commentary by the editor. Sometimes these notes were political; often they were seasonal. I (Bill Felker) am the author of the essays that appear at the beginning of each month in Poor Will’s Almanack. All of the essays have appeared previously in my newspaper columns.

 

Time of Day

Eastern Standard Time is used for all times listed throughout Poor Will’s Almanack for 2004.

 

Astronomical Information

Information on the moon, the planets, the stars, sun and shooting stars is based on Astronomical Phenomena for the Year 2004, U.S. Government Printing Office, as well as on personal observations from along the 40th parallel in the northern hemisphere.

 

Weekly Weather

The weekly weather overviews which appear with each month between October 2003 and September 2004 are based on my charts of fractal patterns (see the essay on fractal patterning in the March section of this almanack) made in Yellow Springs, Ohio between 1978 and 2002. They have been used successfully by readers throughout Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky since 1985. Readers in the East should add 1 to 2 days to specific days mentioned in the overviews. In the Plains, subtract 1-2 days for best results. Temperature ranges given in the weekly weather sections are based on averages in the lower Midwest. In order to estimate temperatures in their own regions, readers should subtract one degree for every 100 miles north of Columbus, Ohio (the 40th parallel), but add two degrees for every 100 miles south of Columbus, Ohio.

Frostwatch

The Frostwatch charts, which appear in April, May, June, September, October and November, show the chances that frost will have occurred in the lower Midwest by the date indicated. Calculations are based on average frequency of freezing temperatures in central Ohio and Indiana. The data can be adjusted by adding five percent for each 100 miles north of the 40th parallel (or for each 500 feet above 1000 feet above sea level). Subtract five percent for each 100 miles south of the 40th parallel. Although Frostwatch statistics are approximate, they can serve, with interpolation, as a general guide to the advent of spring or fall.

Seasonal Counts

Major high-pressure systems cross the United States at an average rate of once every five to six days, and 60 to 65 systems cross the Mississippi in a year. The sections of Poor Will’s Almanack titled Wintercount, Springcount, Summercount, and Autumncount enumerate and briefly describe the majority of these systems.

Fronts move more quickly in the colder months; October through March can bring up to eight waves of high pressure every 30 days. The warmer months between April and September are more likely to have six or fewer fronts; June, July and August sometimes only produce two or three significant systems.

This regular pulse that characterizes the planet’s atmosphere was first recorded in detail by 16th-century almanackers. It still forms the basis for annual predictions in most of today’s commercial almanacks, and can be used by anyone who keeps a weather journal to gauge the likelihood for rain or sun, heat or cold on any given day.

Hunting and Fishing Times

Some research and traditions suggest that fish and game tend to feed more when the moon is directly overhead—or directly below the earth about 12 hours later. The monthly keys to lunar position show when the moon is above or below the United States, and therefore the period during which fish and game are typically most active.

Since fish and game are also feed more prior to the arrival of high-pressure systems, a knowledge of these cold fronts becomes a significant key to increasing your chances of hunting and fishing success. Your expeditions should be most successful if scheduled one to three days prior to the arrival of each weather system. Conversely, if you have a choice, you may elect to stay home on days when a cold front arrives. Consult the Wintercount, Springcount, Summercount, Autumncount sections of each month for the approximate arrival date of weather systems.

The Seasonal Calendar

The seasonal calendar section of Poor Will’s Almanack is a compilation of key events in the progress of the year. These events occur around the dates indicated throughout the lower Midwest, and an attempt has been made to reference natural happenings in other areas of the country, as well. While the number of such occurrences is literally infinite—certainly beyond the power of anyone to list in their entirety—even a partial list can help place the course of the year in linear perspective.

Wildflower Calendar

The dates listed between March through September are average times for the first blossoming of each wildflower along much of the 40th parallel (at 1,000 feet above sea level) in an average year. In a cold spring, blooming can be set back as such as two weeks. If April and May are exceptionally warm, flowers can be ten to fifteen days early. Drought and excessive precipitation change matters, too. Despite such fluctuations and the influence of habitat, the general sequence of flowering remains relatively predictable and can serve as a broad guide for floral sequence across the nation’s midsection. At other locations in North America, once the wildflower year begins, it remains close to the progression listed in this calendar, even though the specific dates may be considerably different.

Farming and Gardening by the Moon

Farming and gardening suggestions are based on likely weather conditions and accepted practices for different times of the year. They also make use of traditional lore about lunar phases. Although definitive proof about the efficacy of these phases has yet to be produced, many farmers and gardeners find that combining lunar conditions with their other routines is satisfying and contributes to their success.

The Allergy Index

Average pollen and mold counts are based on average counts made in the central states during the latter years of the 20th century. Data show general trends based on typical weather patterns and floral cycles.

The S.A.D. Index

Current medical opinion suggests that the human brain may need a certain amount of sunlight for maximum wellbeing and that seasonal fluctuation of the body’s natural clock can often bring on shifts of outlook and mood. Sometimes seasonal imbalance can be debilitating; when it is, the problem is often called as S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Knowledge is perhaps the best defense against S.A.D., and the S.A.D. Stress Index contributes to that knowledge by measuring the natural phenomena which are assumed to be related to S.A.D.—the day’s length, the percentage of probable sunlight, the weather, and the phase of the moon. In order to create the Index, each of those factors was given a value from zero to 25, and then the four values were combined onto a scale of one to 100. Interpretation is simple: the higher the number, the greater the stress.

Index readings are most useful in combination with a record of your own moods. Reference to the Index when you feel out of sorts may be a way of getting a feel for how seasonal affective disorders influence your life.

 

Index of Seasonal Essays by Bill Felker

October 2003              The Secret Rhythm

November 2003            Invulnerable Leaves

December 2003            Waiting for the 17-Year Cicadas

January 2004                Merak and Dubhe

February 2004              The First Fly of Spring

March 2004                   Fractal Yin and Yang

April 2004                     The Rising Christ of Spring

May 2004                      Strawberry Synecdoche

June 2004                      Ambivalence

July 2004                       The Catbird

August 2004                   Late Summer

September 2004             The Inner Garden

October 2004                  The Secret Passion of Camel Crickets

November 2004               Promises

December 2004                Early Winter

Index of Almanack Literature

 

October 2003              Go Back! by E.S.

                                     There’s a MAN in There!! By Mrs. Orville Babcock

 

November 2003            The Facts of Life by Anonymous

                                     Reader Recalls Ferocious Storm by Oliver P. Walston

 

December 2003           Speaking With Mice by Janet Stevens

                                     Predicting Winter from the Bark of a Tree by Virden Smith

 

January 2004               Papa and the Bear by Eunice Hicks

                                    Dyno-Mite-Love by Rick Donahoe

 

February 2004            A True Chicken Story by Lois Rivard

                                     Outside the Privy Door by Helen Dillon

                                     Then and Now by Earl Zuvers

 

March 2004                An Outhouse Romance by Anonymous

                                  The Log Chain Swing by Anna Monroe Bruce

 

April 2004                  The Bible in the Outhouse by Mary Ann Bebko

                                  Speaking With Mice II by Janet Stevens

 

May 2004                    Gone Fishin’ by Mike Miller

                                   Olive and the Dough  by Pliny Fulkner

 

June 2004                 Prayer Power by Lois Rivard

                                  Phenomenal Weather by Barbara Cook

                                  Crapper Fire by Donna McCool

 

July 2004                     Where There Were No Flies by Mary R. Zigler

                                     Dumb Me by Anna Monroe Bruce

 

August 2004                 Innocent, by Donna Scriver

                                    Talk about Stoopid by Rick Donahoe

                                    The Path to Peace and Harmony by Gene Holder

 

September 2004          The School of Hard Tricks by Erma Baldwin

                                     An Outhouse Surprise by Ruth Ann Meyer

 

October 2004              Three Taps on the Wall by Naomi Bliss

                                     Speaking With Wasps by Janet Stevens

 

November 2004            Outhouse Terror! By Sylvia Gibbons

                                      Chickenpoop by Rick Donahoe

 

December 2004            A Lesson For the Teacher: A Christmas Outhouse Story By Mrs. Lillie Shaffer

                                     Ping by Mary Zigler

                                     The Cold Toilet Seat Blues by Maggie Felker

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