PHYLLIS HARPER: Farmers' Almanac a treasure trove of fun

If predictions for the last week of February be true, we can expect more wintry weather. Then March will arrive like a lamb and leave like a lion, beginning with sunshine and warmth, followed by stormy skies and up-and-down temperatures. So says the Farmers' Almanac.

Published every year since 1818, Farmers' Almanac is not to be confused with Old Farmer's Almanac, which has been around since 1792. I haven't seen Old Farmer's this year, but thanks to Kathy Garrison-Parker, I have a copy of the smaller Farmers' for 2004.

Unlike many farmers of his time, my grandfather never relied on almanacs for weather advice, and didn't follow the phases of the moon or signs of the zodiac for planting on the farm at Fawn Grove, though Grandy did quote such weather sayings as “Red at morning, sailors take warning; red at night, sailors delight.”

Most almanacs arrived in our RFD mailbox free of charge, and so did mail-order catalogues – one welcome reading material, the other a wish book over which to dream.

Almanac advice on how to cure Cabin Fever: Think ahead to spring, which by the way, is not far away on the calendar. Whether or not you wish to rely on weather forecasts printed a year in advance, you can expect spring to arrive on March 20 and summer on June 20. A list of holidays includes Easter, which falls on April 11 this year.

The current Farmers' has “Philosofacts” (a word not found in dictionaries): We must choose between peace on earth or earth in pieces, and, you must know you don't know before you can learn.

This almanac has riddles to amuse children of all ages: What animal keeps the best time? Answer: A watchdog. What starts with an “e,” ends with an “e,” but has only one letter? An envelope.

Want a natural moth repellent? Tie dried rosemary and mint leaves in old nylon stockings and place them in closets and drawers.

Is proverbial wisdom always really wise? Perhaps not, because when some proverbs are paired, they give conflicting advice:

– Slow and steady wins the race – but gather rosebuds while you may.

– Haste makes waste – but he who hesitates is lost.

– Too many cooks spoil the broth – but many hands make light work.

– Two's company and three's a crowd – but the more the merrier because two heads are better than one.

– Birds of a feather flock together – but opposites attract.

– Silence is golden and talk is cheap – but a word to the wise is sufficient.

– A stitch in time saves nine – but better late than never.

They're not on the Farmers' Almanac list of conflicting proverbs, but Grandy used to say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but it's the quacking duck that gets shot.

Phyllis Harper's column appears each Sunday in the Daily Journal.

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