Perhaps off the subjects of foraging, food and family…but I think this still fits the blog, at least from a literary standpoint. Instead of just trying to publicize my own book and events, I thought I’d try to talk about other authors’ books from time to time. So here goes…
Remember that old tv series Northern Exposure? Well, imagine if an entire season was written by James Joyce, and instead of a tv show, it was a novel. Okay, maybe a stretch there, but that’s what I thought as I read Brian Doyle’s Mink River. An unusual and beautiful mix of small-town Northwest–quirky characters and all–written with a decidedly Irish sensibility and style. Oh, and toss in a dash of magic realism to round it all out. (note: I’m not usually a big fan of magic realism, but it works for me here.)
Beyond the wise and philosophical talking crow and the two-man Public Works Department that feels its duty goes way beyond fixing roads and maintaining water lines to actually helping their fellow citizens on an emotional level, this book is about the healing power of community and the natural world. To read it is to be fully absorbed into the woods and waters of the Pacific Northwest and the town of Neawanaka, and to know the people who live there as if they were close personal friends. This is a book to savor, and a story that will stay with you for a long time.
After years of splitting all our firewood with my trusty maul, I’ve caved in to the power of modern machinery. We’ve been so busy with the farm this year, I just haven’t had time for my usual, leisurely, split-a-few-rounds-before-work-each-day routine. And the rounds were piling up, needing to be split in time to dry.
So now, with the drying season upon us, we took the easy route. Kind of felt like cheating, but we really had to get it done. Today. And it turned out to be a great three-man operation: I moved rounds and held them in position while Skyla worked the switch and Weston hauled and piled split cordwood. When Weston got tired, the kids would switch jobs. And we blew through a huge pile of rounds in four hours.
Still kicked my butt. Something about doing all the work from a crouched position hammers the knees and back…but it was easily ten times faster than going old school. Am I wimping out? Probably. But as I type, I feel beat to a pulp and the kids were asleep before they hit their pillows tonight. And of course, it all still needs to be stacked. When they invent a machine that does that, this wimp will be first in line.