Winners of the 2012 Almanac Essay Contest

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Thank you to everyone who submitted an essay. We were overwhelmed with words of appreciation and shared memories from across the United States and Canada, both from families who have read and used the Almanac for generations and from folks who have only recently come to know it. In addition to the stories here, folks wrote of making and keeping a wood fire, marketing grain crops by the Moon, digging clams or going crabbing, fund-raising, weaning a child from the bottle, giving speeches, researching woodcut art, and writing a novel. Most writers offered praise for our advice on farming and gardening (especially by the Moon), husbandry, fishing and nature, astronomical sightings and Moon names, recipes, accurate weather forecasts, and the ability to lift spirits in good times and sad. From all of your kind words, we are humbled, heartened, and inspired.

Topic: How The Old Farmer’s Almanac Has Influenced My Life

First Prize

Two years ago, I became an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada and was sent from Toronto to serve three tiny farming towns in rural Saskatchewan. I think that my congregants were as nervous as I was about how a city minister was going to fit in with a community of farmers and ranchers. At Coffee House after my first church service, I mentioned a fact about seeding wheat. There was a stunned silence. Then someone asked how a city person would know that.
“Oh, I read The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” I answered.
You could almost hear the sigh of relief go up. From that moment on, I was one of them!
Anne Hines, Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan

Second Prize

In 1982, I was a city girl in my early 30s when John, a farm boy, was hired and assigned to share an office with me. Other than age, we had little in common. One day, he was reading The Old Farmer’s Almanac, a book I had never seen before. His obvious enjoyment piqued my interest. We began talking about left- vs. right-hand calendar pages and astronomy vs. astrology, as well as guessing the weather, finding reasons to celebrate obscure holidays, and perusing the home and health tidbits, which he already knew. This eventually led to a special tradition that has continued to connect us. We each buy Almanacs every fall and use them to plan our get-togethers. Even though our lives have taken us in different directions, our tradition with the Almanac has helped us to stay in touch.
Ellen Waxberg, Skokie, Illinois

Third Prize

A few years ago, The Old Farmer’s Almanac explained why the Sun usually does come out at noon. As a roofer, I soon turned this information to my advantage. Whenever we had one of those gray, damp days, someone would invariably say at coffee break, “Well, it looks like we won’t see the Sun today.”
I’d say, “I bet you it comes out at noon.”
“How much you wanna bet?” he’d ask.
“Five bucks.”
“You’re on!”
Every few months, I’d reel in another one until no one would make a wager except the rookies, who eventually were forewarned, so even they wouldn’t bet me.
One day, a buddy cornered me and asked me how I could be so accurate. “Give me five bucks and I’ll tell you,” I said. With the cash in hand, I told him: “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.”
–Peter R. Anderson, Bozrah, Connecticut

Honorable Mention

My older brother has always teased me about my knowledge, or lack of it, pertaining to the stars. He and I would go out into a local field to challenge each other’s knowledge of the night sky, whenever the weather permitted. He had won all of our weekly contests every year. He did, after all, have an 8-year leg up on me when it came to life and stargazing. But his winning streak had left me downtrodden.
Then, one day, I picked up a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which claimed to contain “everything under the Sun, including the Moon.” Every week since, I’ve given him a good run for his money, mostly swamping him with my spot-on predictions!
Andrew Pearson, Coweta, Oklahoma

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