I picked up the latest volume of Wapsipinicon Almanac (Number 14), one of Iowa's recurring and portable treasures, Sunday morning in Ames --- and have been dipping into it while mowing lawn, trying to reread Black Hawk's autobiography and having better luck with Steven Biel's "American Gothic."
So far I've finished off Timothy Fay's "Talk Of The Township," Raymond M. Tinnian's "Four Seasons Mini-Almanac" and the two history-oriented pieces, Bill Douglas's "Insurgent Religion in Iowa" and Laura Rigal's "A Bad Day On the Prairie: The Chickasaw County Massacre."
By this time next year, when Volume 15 appears, I'll have finished it off --- if not before. That's one of the nicest things about the Wapsi Alminac: It only appears once a year. Not that you wouldn't like it to appear more often, but it does leave a reader free of periodical guilt and the need to cover that pile of unread magazines that subscribing to seems like a good idea at the time.
The Almanac is a 160-page compilation of writing by Iowans about Iowa --- non-fiction, fiction, history, a little bit of everything. That may sound a little chauvinistic, but who is going to write about Iowa if Iowans don't?
It's published the old-fashioned way, brought to you by Eldon Meeks on the Linotype and editor/publisher Timothy Fay at the controls of the vintage letterpress press (he operates Route 3 Press), down near Anamosa, then sidestitched and bound. It's about the size of National Geographic, but about as far away from slick as you can get --- and that's the point. Even the advertising's fun and non-threatening.
You can't subscribe (another advantage) and it's sometimes difficult to find out in the hinterland (and Ames certainly is that). Book-sellers tend to be unsure what to do with it. It is a periodical, after all, but I found it among the "Of Local Interest" selections.
If you can't find it on the shelf somewhere, you can order direct from Route 3 Press. Here's the Web site.