In a society of dispersed and far-flung tastes, a universal book owned by every single household seems inconceivable. But in 17th and 18th century America, the almanac was just that—an annual publication that served as both reference book and entertainment. It included weather forecasts, astronomical data, astrological predictions, farmers’ planting dates, and tide tables, as well as essays, poetry, and proverbial sayings. Writing about almanacs in 1878, professor of American history Moses Coit Tyler suggested that the almanac was “the universal book of modern literature, the supreme and only literary necessity even in household where the Bible and the newspaper are still undesired and unattainable luxuries.”
The almanac was traditionally read by all social classes. It was an inexpensive publication, accessible by almost anyone and useful especially for farmers and those in agriculture-related professions. The almanac provided an awareness of the cycles and rhythms of one’s environment. It navigated the streams of both tradition and progress, incorporating science, observation, and old wisdom. It was a both a micro and macro glimpse of the structure of the universe, with the fundamental assumption that abiding by seasonal and climate changes was only possible with some fore knowledge of its movements and systems.
The Inverness Almanac, which will be released on March 13, is a continuation of this very tradition. Focused on the West Marin region, the Inverness Almanac describes itself as “a record and an artifact for posterity,” “a collection of practical knowledge,” “ruminations about our natural world,” and “an outlet for creative expression.” Conceived and compiled by a group of a dozen volunteers, all West Marin residents, the Inverness Almanac solicited submissions from the surrounding community, collecting “observations of weather” as well as journal entries, drawings, recipes, essays, interviews, hand-drawn maps, and other curiosities. A salient feature of the almanac legacy, the confluence of place, time, and community is central to the Inverness Almanac. Community wisdom is captured, not forgotten; the connection between humans and land is seized upon. This is an artifact at once time-sensitive and timeless.