Different ways to count the days

Businesses give out free calendars that are fun and functional

`Write it on your life that every day is the best day in the year.'

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, quoted in May of the Hood River Stationers' 2002 calendar

Here's the year. Do with it what you will.

That's how customers are greeted by commercial calendars given out for 2002. They also say: read the fine print, enjoy the bright colors, and remember our name.

Early in the new year, people are still getting used to new calendars, our means of charting the 365.242190 days of the tropical year -- the distance between the solstice and the equinox.

Stores sell thousands of calendars, with themes from dachsunds to dahlias, but many businesses continue the tradition of giving them away. Businesses such as the grocery, the bank, the oil company, the exterminator, the stationer, and the rental shop -- the random assortment of local merchants reflected here.

Thanks for your business; please come back next year. The message is both subtle and friendly.

The types of calendars businesses give away are just as varied as the companies. The thing that ties them together is function. The six calendars described each provide information in a practical manner, and perhaps a bit of whimsy and trivia to season things.

Hood River Stationers' pocket-sized calendar contains 12 pithy quotations like the one above, and a list of Wedding anniversary gifts (the 15th anniversary is "watches.") It also carries a 2002 Olympic Games calendar, so you know that figure skating starts one month from today, Feb. 9.

With Your Rental Center's "Dig Safely" calendar, the back peels off so the information on the Oregon Utility Notification Center can be adhered to any dashboard or clipboard. It measures 3-by-5, with tear-off months.

Bank of America's "personal planner" is printed in basic black and contains ample room for daily entries. This 7-by-10-inch calendar is business-like: key holidays, international telephone codes, phone numbers for key airlines, auto rental and credit card companies, and hotel chains, plus a U.S. time zone map and ample room for notes.

Mid-Columbia Exterminating's concise magnetic calendar fits on any metal surface. Business name, address and phone numbers -- and January through December -- compact (4-by-4) as can be.

Carson Oil's scenery calendar hangs easily; each month's grid has plenty of room to write. This one's a classic: beautiful photos (Oregon's rugged coast, Wyoming's Grand Tetons) simply labeled with the states' names.

Wy'East Grocery's splashy calendar comes with monthly tear-offs with the names of each day's saint (Jan. 9 is St. Julian). Adorning the pages are eclectic photos and drawings -- from a puffing volcano in Enero/January to sliced green tomatoes in Septiembre/September. Towering above it all is the reproduction of the painting "El Rapto."

In 2002, calendars -- even one with a hero on horseback -- watch over our lives.

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