A few days before I wrote this review, I was talking with my friend about Eric Sloane's art. She had picked up my copy of Eric Sloane's Weather Almanac and browsed through it while I was getting some food prepared. The following discussion of an artist she had known nothing about led to an interesting revelation. She asked if he was still alive and I replied "No, he had died several years ago." And I added that he died at a ripe old age. Picking up the book to see if his birthday might be given, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the "next day" February 27, 2005 was the centennial of his birth. (So Happy Birthday, Eric from one of your great admirers!)
|Of two men looking at a sunset, the scientist will say, "Tomorrow will be clear," while the philosopher observes, "What a wonderful sunset!" from "Author's Note," Eric Sloane's Weather Almanac|
In this new volume, Voyageur Press has combined Eric Sloane's Weather Almanac and Weather Forecaster with his Folklore of American Weather (first published in 1963) into a new collection. I also understand that they reprinted his: An Age of Barns a few years ago. Only the release of my books makes me happier than seeing Eric Sloane emerging back into the North American conscience. Sloane's works are pure joy to read and thumb through. His style is so smooth, it seems like he is talking with you, a style that, in my experience, doesn't seem to win much favour with editors now days. His art, from line drawings which grace his many books to full colour paintings, is a beauty to behold he coined the term "cloudscape" back in the 1930s. (For those wanting to know more about Sloane, see my article Eric Sloane: Look At The Sky.)
Re-reading Eric Sloane's Weather Almanac was a most pleasurable experience, and I was pleasantly surprised that most of his technical discussions still hold well after half a century. One interesting, but now dated, remark of Sloane's involved the firefly. He wrote: "No one has solved the riddle of the firefly's light, but if man could duplicate it he would be able to produce illumination without heat loss." Of course, since that sentence was written, we have solved the riddle and artificially produced small light sticks of the compound.
The first part of the book, Eric Sloane's Weather Almanac and Weather Forecaster is written as weekly essays in an almanac style, and they do not always stick to weather as the prime topic. But for me, that just makes this book a bigger delight, like sitting next to the man on a front porch and having a free-wheeling conversation. As the almanac unfolds, Sloane walks us through many weather topics relevant to the week/month in which it appears: snow on roads, thunder clouds, Indian Summer to name a few. Beyond discussions of what causes such phenomena, Sloane gives us hints for artistic representations of the sky:
"In landscapes, distance is denoted by shades of blue; distant mountains are bluer. But with clouds and sky, this rule reverses. Distant clouds are redder; nearby clouds are bluer."
and tells us how folks a century or more ago learned to cope with the weather:
"When you paint on a wet day or during a warm air mass, you seal in the moisture of the day; a cold day is the painter's best friend."
One need not even read the full text of the Weather Almanac and Weather Forecaster portion of this volume to greatly enjoy the time. Study of the many wonderful illustrations and their explanatory text is an education in itself. They are teaching aids I would use in profusion on my website if they were public domain.
The second book within the volume Folklore of American Weather begins with a brief discussion of folklore and folk sayings related to weather and the popular weather almanacs. Most of the book presents a number of folk weather sayings and indicates whether Sloane believes them true (T), false (F) or possibly true under some circumstances (P). With many, Sloane gives a reason behind his answer. I only would argue with one and that would be to change it from F to P. As with the Almanac portion of the volume, this book is well illustrated with Sloane's trademark explanatory diagrams.
Eric Sloane's Weather Almanac has a welcomed return to the popular weather literature from this reviewer like a long-lost friend. Either of the original volumes is a treat to read, ponder and enjoy on its own. That Voyageur Press has given us two for the price of one is a deal that should not be passed by. I recommend this book for any age (I read the first part when I was nine) and can envision it as the foundation of a weather library that will keep giving for years to come. On a ten rainbow scale, this gets the maximum.
Weather Doctor's Book Review: Eric Sloane’s Weather Almanac ©2005, Keith C. Heidorn. All Rights Reserved.
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