A newsletter from the publisher of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Remember to bookmark our site http://www.almanac.com for fast, easy access! If you’d like to view this newsletter in your browser, paste the following link into your browser’s location or address bar: http://www.almanac.com/news
Late lies the wintry Sun a-bed, A frosty, fiery sleepy-head; Blinks but an hour or two; and then, A blood-red orange, sets again.
–Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94)
In this issue, you’ll find information on these topics:
There is nothing better than a leisurely, home-cooked breakfast to start a winter day. This weekend, plan to invite friends over to do just that. Light a fire, put on a pot of coffee, and cook up some apple cinnamon pancakes. Or, try these wonderful baked apples filled with sausage.
Later, after you’ve had your fill and the kitchen’s cleaned up, get out in the fresh air and take a brisk walk.
It’s Not Too Early to Start Planning Your Garden
Make a garden diagram drawn to scale before placing your spring order. Remember this rule of thumb for planning perennial gardens: The width of the garden should be about twice the height of the tallest plant growing in it.
Organize, clean, oil, and sharpen your garden tools. A splash of bright paint on tool handles will make them easier to spot out in the yard.
Examine your land in the stark winter days, looking for places where an evergreen might go nicely.
Visit a greenhouse or nursery near you and talk with the experts about your growing problems. Ask them about shrub varieties best for your conditions.
2008 is under way, and we’re celebrating at The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Here in Dublin, New Hampshire, we’re enjoying everything about January — the snow, the crisp air, and the brilliant blue skies, as well as the new beginnings that this time of year signals.
This week, join us to pause and enjoy January.
Sincerely, The Old Farmer’s Almanac
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New Year’s Day — January 1
Ruler of new beginnings, gates and doors, the first hour of the day, the first day of the month, and the first month of the year, the Roman god Janus gave January its name. He was pictured as two-headed (both heads bearded) and situated so that one head looked forward into the new year while the other took a retrospective view. Janus also presided over the temple of peace, where the doors were opened only during wartime. It was a place of safety, where new beginnings and new resolutions could be forged, just as the New Year is a time for new objectives and renewed commitments to long-term goals.
Presidential Straw Poll — January 1–January 7
We want YOU . . . . . . to vote in the first-ever Old Farmer’s Almanac New Hampshire Presidential Straw Poll! Cast your vote now!
Twelfth Night — January 5
Twelfth Night, the eve of January 5, is in English folk custom the end of Christmas merrymaking and in ancient Celtic tradition the end of the 12-day winter solstice celebration. On Twelfth Night, it was customary for the assembled company to toast one another from the wassail bowl. In Old English, wassail means "Be in good health," but the term also was applied to the drink itself (usually spiced ale). Try our Light Wassail recipe.
St. Knut’s Day — January 13
Is your Christmas tree still standing? This year, start a new tradition in your family by taking it out in style, just as people in Sweden do. In Sweden, January 13, St. Knut’s Day, is the traditional day to discard the Christmas tree and end the season’s festivities. A children’s party is the favored way to strip the tree of its decorations, after which the children are free to "plunder" the edible treats and small gifts placed on the tree especially for the occasion. Finally, everyone "dances" the tree out the door. Singing special songs, they pick up the tree and toss it out into the snow. Swedish children look forward to this dancing-out party almost as much as Christmas itself — and what better way to combat the post-Christmas blues?
Proverbial Weather Forecasts
Keep these time-tested adages in mind over the next few weeks:
Always expect a thaw in January.
Fog in January brings a wet spring.
He who drops a coat on a winter day, Will gladly put it on in May.
If on January 12th the Sun shine, it foreshows much wind.
Wondering what the weather will be? Visit the Almanac Weather Center for a long-range weather forecast specific to your region!
Firewood Tips and Lore
Wood warms you thrice–when you chop it, when you stack it, when you burn it.
To avoid insect pests, never store firewood on the ground touching your house.
A cord of wood is a pile of logs 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long.
A cord of hardwood weighs about 2 tons.
The best trees to burn (most heat value) are American beech, apple, ironwood, red oak, shagbark hickory, sugar maple, white ash, white oak, and yellow birch.
Burn only seasoned wood (seasoned logs seem light in weight and have dark ends with cracks or splits).
Ash makes great firewood. According to an old saying, "Ash new or ash old is fit for a queen with a crown of gold." Expect rain or snow when burning wood pops and sparkles.