While attending college at Bemidji State University, I adopted a sort of adage that I shared with other writers. I would say, “Always carry two books. One from which you read ideas, and one into which you write ideas.” Basically, I would carry a pocket size novel in one suit pocket, and a Moleskine journal in the other.
This practice fell by the wayside some time during my teaching experience in China. I don’t know why, but I simply stopped writing in my journal. It’s been more than two years now, and I have picked that journal back up, but not exclusively for journaling. I have had this sort of goal in mind for a couple years. Looking at the Farmer’s Almanac, I thought it might be interesting to have a personal almanac. Basically it would be a journal tracking the various things that contribute to success in activities like fishing, gardening, or hunting of various wild things. In a way, this would be a minor form of phenology.
There were a few things that I needed to be able to track to meet this goal.
2. Barometric pressure
4. Hours of daylight
Of course, you could purchase a thermometer, a barometer, a humidity meter, and an individual monitor for each of these things, but they make affordable tools that accomplish most of these goals all at once. I ended up buying this one, but you should really choose one to your own needs.
This weather station tracks temp, pressure, and humidity. It also shows times for sunrise and set and has a frost warning (which is a bonus so I can cover my plants). It has other functions, including an alarm clock, but it is too shrill for me to use it. It does lack a tool for measuring inches of precipitation, but that is easy. I’ll just get a rain gauge.
Now, one might wonder why all of this would be useful. That’s easy
People have long been aware that barometric pressure impacts fishing success. In the same way, hours of sunlight determine proper planting times for some plants. Nighttime temperatures determine morel mushroom hunting success and maple sap harvest. If I track these pieces of data regularly, it could be possible that I could find other relationships in my successful harvest of other plants such as blueberries for instance. Finding these patterns is why I have started keeping a journal again.
If I have years of journal entries that demonstrate what weather brings a healthy wild strawberry harvest, I could stop missing the delicious little treats using data from previous years.
With our sudden temperature change in the local area, I was able to predict a poor maple sap harvest far ahead of the WCCO news crew. I looked at the warm nighttime temperatures and said, “The night temperature is rising too fast. The sap isn’t going to flow very well.”
My next step is to find a decent soil thermometer. This site, http://www.hungry-for-hunting.com/morel-mushroom-hunting-tips.html , has some good information on nighttime and soil temperatures for planning morel hunting.
This is only the start! I have also started occasionally including my own personal weight, and may pick up an old habit of tracking my caloric intake and other health related data. All of that would then go into that journal.
Really, the possibilities for tracking this kind of information are endless. Maybe I will start sharing some of this information on my blog or on twitter. Let me know your thoughts.