Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Before and After

Ono Almanac has played the boards of Blogger for a year and is looking forward to a second season in 2016. We'll be digging around for things to trot out for your enjoyment.
   An almanac is a collection of lore, facts, history, and observations. It was designed as a way to inform and delight readers as to the ways of the earth, the heavens, cultural beliefs (folklore), and the forces that act upon them. The little booklets were in almost every home with their important predictions of the weather for the coming year, remedies for common illnesses and first-aid advice for accidents as doctors were few, recipes for the housewife, and little essays of morality and service.
   The Harris' Farmer's Almanac, with its little hole for hanging on a nail inside the pantry door within easy reach, was first published in 1692, a scant fifty years after the first settlers arrived on the shores of the North American continent.
  A famous compiler of almanacs was Benjamin Franklin who published Poor Richard's Almanak for 1733 to 1758. It was filled with all of the above plus pithy saying that he collected from vast reading and percolated through his agile brain. The weather forecasts, recipes, etc. have passed into oblivion, but the sayings, maxims, and proverbs are with us today such as:

                Time is the herb that cures all diseases.

   When we say someone is "two-faced" we are being disparaging of their character. The new year starting in January is a civil function of counting time and has no religious significance. It was named for the Roman god of beginning, Janus who had always been represent as having two-faces, looking forward and behind.
   Today the old-year in cartoons is an old man staggering on weak limbs away into the past, while the new year's is shown as a baby lusting to grow and make tracks on the world.

                             Pale January lay
                        In its cradle day by day
                              Alfred Auston

   The vignettes for 2015 were compiled by peeking though the cracks of our memories and those of our friends who grew up in rural areas about the same time our country was beginning to recover from the great depression to be plunged into a devastating war. It has been fun to remember, research and write about everyday things of that era. We are looking forward to a brave new year in 2016 bringing you bits and pieces from the roots of home.
   So with Barbara Appleby, who designs our illustrations, Nash Black says:

           Happy New Year, Everyone.


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