Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Country Year

A Country Year: Living the Question by Sue Hubbell is a delightful little book of essays that were originally compiled together and published in 1986. My hardcover copy is 221 pages. I adored this quiet, simple book. (I also started reading it before the trip so you might be able to trust my judgement here a tad bit more than the last two reviews.)

From Amazon:
"An invasion of spring peepers, a young indigo bunting at song practice, a parade of caterpillars - these are integral parts of Hubbell's environment. She lives alone on a 100-acre farm in the Ozarks, where she tends 200 beehives and produces honey on a commercial scale. In a series of exquisite vignettes she takes us into her world, and a life attuned to nature. Hubbell's busiest season is late summer, when she harvests the honey. Then she needs help for the backbreaking labor ("a strong young man who is not afraid of being stung"). She tells how she desensitizes her helper to bee stings; there is a vivid description of a day in the beeyard at harvest time. We meet her dogs and cats, her neighbors; travel with her when she sells the honey; share the pleasures of observing wildlife. Some of these delightful pieces have appeared in the "Hers" column of the New York Times and in Country Journal."

"Over the past twelve years I have learned that a tree needs space to grow, that coyotes sing down by the creek in January, that I can drive a nail into oak only when it is green, that bees know more about making honey than I do, that love can become sadness, and that there are more questions than answers."

"I believe it was Sir James Jeans, the physicist, who was supposed to have observed that we live in a world that is not only queerer than we think but queerer than we can think."

"My bees cover one thousand square miles of land that I do not own in their foraging flights, flying from flower to flower for which I pay no rent, stealing nectar but pollinating plants in return. It is an unruly, benign kind of agriculture, and making a living by it has such a wild, anarchistic, raffish appeal that it unsuits me for any other, except possibly robbing banks."

And finally this quote is dedicated to the California women who were lecturing me about living in the Midwest and their farms/acreage's here:
"The simple lifers always have a theory or two that they are not at all shy about expounding - theories which differ in details but always come down to knowing better how to live in the country than the peasants do... Ozarkers have a saying about back-to-the -landers: The briars get in their clothes, the hillbillies get their money and they leave with an empty suitcase in their hands."

Loved this book.

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