SEPT. 9, MONDAY: Tolstoy born, 1828. Abraham Lincoln earned law license, 1836.

SEPT. 10, TUESDAY: Sewing machine patented, 1846. "Gunsmoke" debuted on TV, 1955.SEPT. 11, WEDNESDAY: Propitious day for reaping. Nikita Khruschev died, 1971.

SEPT. 12, THURSDAY: New Moon. J.F. Kennedy married Jackie Bouvier, 1953. A.S. Wells hired as first U.S. policewoman, LAPD, 1913.

SEPT. 13, FRIDAY: Rhinoceros first seen in New York City, 1826. Hurricane Gilbert hit Carribean, 1988. It's FRIDAY the 13th!

SEPT. 14, SATURDAY: Holy Cross. Rosh Hashanah. Moon at ascending node.

SEPT. 15, SUNDAY: Agatha Christie born, 1890. "Lone Ranger" debut, 1949.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Do dream dictionaries really work?

- W.Y., Wheeling, W.Va.

Answer: Given that dream dictionaries have been around since ancient times, you can imagine that there is a wide range of advice and opinion contained within them. The Greeks, the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians all made lists of their dream symbols; some of the assigned significances agreed, and others differed. Artemidorus compiled a dream book of several volumes as early as 150 A.D., and many dream dictionaries today still rely on his work.

By and large, the ancient dictionaries saw dreams in concrete terms. That is, the meanings were more certain, and context didn't alter the significance one way or the other. Dreams were regarded as omens and prophesies. Caesar, Mark Antony, Constantine, Cicero and Alexander the Great were all informed by dreams of one kind or another. The Bible and Shakespeare are full of dreams, whether miraculous, tragic, prophetic or otherwise.

Today, dreams tend to be regarded with less reverence and more of a psychological twist. Context is everything. Symbols often indicate opposites, depending on the emotional feeling in a dream. A father figure in a dream may be protective or threatening. A snake may represent an enemy or healing, fertility or danger, sexual power or spiritual power. To answer your question, we'd wager that dream dictionaries "work" to the extent that they introduce a wide range of possible meanings in any dream, and allow the dreamer (or a trusted "dream guide" or counselor) to ferret out the interpretation that seems to fit best with the context, the person and the situation.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Can you explain the significance of Rosh Hashanah?

- S.T., Birmingham, N.Y.

Answer: Think of it as the Jewish New Year. The ancient Jewish calendar had four New Year's days, each associated with a particular phase of the agricultural cycle. Over time, as we have moved away from our roots in the soil, Rosh Hashanah took on greater weight and has become generally accepted as the one true beginning for the year. It begins a Time of Penitence, when God is thought to consider not only a person's actions but also their intentions during the past year. Worshipers use the time to reflect on their past year, to ask forgiveness (through prayer, confession and fasting) and to formulate their intentions for improvement. In many Jewish communities, Rosh Hashanah is considered a time to renew a commitment to community service and volunteerism, as well.

The ram's horn or "shofar" is an important symbol in the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur rituals. For the month prior to Rosh Hashanah, the shofar is sounded each day in synagogues to announce the coming of the High Holy Days. Then, at the beginning of the Rosh Hashanah services and once more at Yom Kippur, the shofar blast is heard again. Yom Kippur (Sept. 23 this year) is considered the holiest of days in the Jewish calendar. On Yom Kippur, with the blast of the shofar, God's final judgment for the coming year is cast and the heavenly gates are sealed until the next year.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Our summer red raspberries were unusually crumbly this year. What would cause that?

- G.C., Fall River, Mass.

Answer: Good question . . . it could be any number of things. A common culprit of crumbly berries is a wet pollination season. Many rainy or cloudy days during pollination, or simply a lack of bees, can reduce pollination to such an extent that few drupelets are formed. (A drupelet is one of the small, single bumps that collectively form the raspberry. Tiny hairs hold the drupelets together, and too few drupelets makes for crumbly berries.) Is it possible that something happened to your local population of bees? If so, you would likely have noticed a decreased pollination in other fruits and vegetables, as well. If it was a wet season, there's not much you can do.

On the other hand, a very dry season can also cause problems. This is easily remedied, in future years, by adequate watering. You might also consider a soil test to check for possible inadequacies in phosphorus, iron or nitrogen. Your county extension agent should be able to help you get the information you need. Finally, if you or your immediate neighbors are using weed killers on your lawns, this may be harming your plants. Cease and desist!

The worst-case scenario is that your berries have contracted a virus. In this case, you would notice curling leaves, yellowing, or spotting and streaking of the plants, as well as the crumbliness. If this is the case, dig up and burn the affected plants. If possible, replant new, certified virus-free plants in another location altogether, well away from the original diseased bushes.

Send your questions to: Ask the Almanac, The Old Farmer's Almanac, Main St., Dublin, NH 03444. Every day the editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac answer a question on the Inter-net. All questions are archived there as well. On the World Wide Web, the address is




SEPTEMBER 9-15, 1996



Triskaidekaphobia? That's fear of the number 13. MOst hotel designers bow to it; you'll notice there's no thirteenth floor. For some people, Friday the 13th makes triskaidekaphobia even worse. It's argued that there were 13 people at the Last Supper and that the crucifixion of Christ happened on a Friday. Some ships refuse to embark on Friday the 13th; for others, it only has to be a Friday to keep them in port. Winston Churchill wouldn't travel on Friday the 13th - too unlucky. Male song sparrows evidently don't suffer from trikaidekaphobia, however. They keep singing for about 13 minutes after sunset.

We are all tatooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe.

- O.W. Holmes


Don't harvest potatoes until the frost has killed the tops down.


8 medium potatoes

3 tablespoons butter

3 eggs, separated

salt to taste

3 tablespoons grated onion

2 tablespoons minced parsley

bread crumbs

Boil potatoes. Peel and puree or mash while hot. Cool completely. (This step can be done a day ahead and the potatoes refrigerated.) Cream butter until light, then work in egg yolks, salt, onion, and parsley. Mix into mashed potatoes, beating until well blended. Beat egg whites until stiff, then gently fol into potato mixture. Grease souffle dish and sprinkle bread crumbs on bottom and sides. Pour in the potato mixture and bake at 375 F for about 45 minutes, or until nicely browned and risen.

Makes 4 servings


On Holyrood Day (Sept. 14) the devil goes a-nutting.

He that follows Nature is never out of his way.

Sound traveling far and wide, a stormy day will betide.

Special Offer: Handy chart full of interesting weather proverbs. Sen $3 to Weather Chart, Dept. UF, The Old Farmer's Almanac, P.O. Box 520, Dublin, NH 03444.