David Lauderdale

Signs, wonders and cocktail hour: Beaufort County version of the Old Farmer’s Almanac

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When The Old Farmer’s Almanac speaks, we listen.

It’s something my Granny used in the hills of Virginia. She marked her kitchen wall calendar by it, because every fog in August meant a snow that winter.

She may have planted her Irish potatoes and yellow tomatoes by the old yellow almanac’s charts of astronomical wonders. Or, then again, her garden could have been planted according to the more earthly patterns of the swing shift at Uncle Jamie’s carpet mill, which predicted when he had time to plow.

Either way, the almanac’s usefulness is now frozen in my mind.

When it snowed — yes, snowed — on the beaches of Hilton Head Island this January, we turned to the almanac. And, sure enough, “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” had predicted it. Put that in your Tiki Hut and smoke it.

I picked up a copy of the 2019 edition last week at the Harris Teeter.

And, while it seems amazingly complete, I found some things that might not be in a Beaufort County Farmer’s Almanac.

It predicts this trend: “Mini-farms are appearing in grocery store aisles and on rooftops.”

Maybe. But in Beaufort County, we don’t call them mini-farms. We call them Oreo Minis. And that farm on the rooftop is called a gutter.

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The almanac says the annual revenue of the dog-walking industry is $1 billion.

That’s nothing. In Beaufort County, we spend more than that on our dogs’ tennis balls.

In its list of other trends, the almanac quotes retail consultant Jan Rogers Kniffen saying, “If it is not local, online, or off-price, it is not happening.”

For us, that is not a new trend. For years, thrift stores have been Beaufort County’s top growth industry.

The almanac says younger collectors today seek simple technology, like rotary phones, film cameras, manual typewriters and View-Masters.

At our advanced age in Beaufort County, we don’t’ call those collectibles. We call them things we put somewhere in the house, but can’t remember where.

The almanac has a chart of “The Twilight Zone.”

We call that the Beaufort County Board of Education.

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The same chart includes “Meteor Showers.”

I know where there’s a meteor on Hilton Head Island. Call it a pearl of info from a life well spent in the lucrative field of journalism. But I don’t intend on telling anyone where it is.

The almanac explains “Why We Have Seasons”: “ ... because as the Earth rotates around the Sun, its axis remains tilted at 23.5 degrees from the perpendicular.”

In Beaufort County, we know that the seasons change so that during the high season for tourists we can have your wallet tilt 23.5 degrees closer to our bank accounts.

The almanac says Dog Days are July 3 through Aug. 11, the hottest and unhealthiest days of the year.

In Beaufort County, we just assume it’s a Dog Year, and when the temperature dips below 85 degrees, we’re free to hold chili cook-offs.

The almanac has its mainstay “Calendar of the Heavens,” relatively unchanged since the first edition in 1792. Its columns of symbols and numbers “reveal all of nature’s precision, rhythm and glory,” showing the best times to “view conjunctions, meteor showers, planets and more.”

In the Beaufort County farmer’s almanac, we’ve simplified all that. We just call it cocktail hour.

But take this to be the truth. The real Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts no snow for next January.

David Lauderdale: 843-706-8115, @ThatsLauderdale