The Old Farmer's Almanac - forecasting weather and dispensing folk wisdom since 1792 - hit the newsstands Tuesday with its last edition of the millennium.
Abe Weatherwise, the almanac's collective name for its weather forecasters, says winter will be colder than usual with above-normal snowfall in the Northeast and Northwest, while summer will be more typical with "a fairly active hurricane season."The Southeast, Weatherwise says, will have a dry summer and wet fall; the South another blistering summer; the Midwest a bitterly cold winter; the Southwest a warm and dry summer.
The 1999 edition has special significance to editor Judson Hale because 40 years ago to the day, the then-recent Dartmouth College graduate showed up in Dublin eager to begin working for Yankee Magazine, the almanac's publisher.
"My first job was to drive a truck filled with trash to the dump," recalls the 12th editor of the venerable almanac, the nation's oldest continuously published periodical.
During the four decades that followed - a fraction of the almanac's 207 years - Hale has dispensed everything from how to tell the temperature without a thermometer to when to plant tomatoes and how to roast a tender turkey.
His favorite is advice on three ways to hypnotize a chicken. Hypnotize a chicken? Why would anyone want to hypnotize a chicken?
"Because you might get the chicken to do what it normally wouldn't do, maybe fetch the newspaper from the porch," Hale says.
The almanac should be "useful with a pleasant degree of humor," says Hale. He and executive editor Tim Clark say they want to set a folksy-yet-urbane tone.
Clark says he and Hale decided to call the 1999 edition the last of the millennium "despite the right and correctness of mathematicians to point out that the millennium properly ends rather than starts with the year 2000."
"We subscribe to the odometer theory, and who do you know who's making hotel reservations for Dec. 31, 2000?" said Clark.
Hale likes to point out to editors that the proper name of the almanac is the Old Farmer's Almanac.
"Please don't forget the `Old'," he says, so as to not confuse it with the Farmer's Almanac, a relative baby only 181 years old that is published in neighboring Maine.
The newsstand edition sells for $3.99; a bookshop edition with 48 extra pages for $4.95.