Page 3, "There is no neat and easy way to tell the story of a farm. A farm is a process where everything is related, everything happening at once. It is a circle of life and there is no logical place to begin a perfect circle. This is an unsolved paradox for me. Part of the folly of our time is the idea that we can see the whole of something by looking at the pieces, one at a time." I am a city girl you could say, but Jerry grew up in these parts and spent his young years on his grandparents' farm, so I thought he might enjoy this book as well, he has read several of the stories too and each time, says, "this is a good book." He enjoyed the Chapter about Haying, "Such days were agony, but there was a glory in them. It was as though in proving ourselves equal to the harsh demands of the land, we glimpsed some hint of immortality."
Page 13, Chapter 3, The Awakening Land, Spring was a contradiction. It was both creeping change and explosion. Because the soil was frozen solid, four or five feet deep most years, and covered with snow, it held the cold. The air warmed ahead of the soil in a false feel of spring that was only of the air---not of the entire land." Page 15, "But no one ever talked about a year without a spring. It was as unthinkable as trying to convince someone that they had never been born."
I have included quotes to give the flavor of how well written and why I describe it as lyrical. It is difficult for me to choose one story that I liked better than any of the others, because they are all different, but if I were to limit to only one it would be in the winter section, Chapter 36, The Year the Corn Shredder Stayed All Winter, I have read this about 6 times, it always brings out the grins. It begins, "Lyle claimed the old men in Petersburg could start swapping stories some morning, changing things as they went along, and go on for three days before they realized they were telling each other the same story." This is the story of a man named Nubbin, who works his tractor and corn shredder through the farms. "The tractor, corn shredder, and Nubbin, the owner were all getting old. Things kept going wrong on each job and it was early December before the rig came chugging and smoking up to the barnyard gate. I'd been hearing about Nubbin. I expected a giant but he was short, about the size of Lyle, had a bright red nose, big bushy eyebrows, and a scraggly beard. The story was that he was superstitious--never shaved on a week that had a Friday in it." See what I mean about lyrical, comical, just reading paints the scene and the characters.
There is a new Afterword in my edition and the very last chapter, The Circle of Life describes a feeling I have shared as I try to piece together ancestry of my family, though I have no affinity for a farm or land. Page 177, "As the changing seasons carry me forward in time, a stubborn part of me keeps reaching back to preserve, unbroken my linkage with the land. Partly I reach back to find myself at some age of innocence when the land was my whole world. Partly I try to recapture those taken-for-granted persons I called Father and Mother." He closes with some sense of tribute to the land, back to ice age, forward to fur trappers, Indians, old tales.
A 5 star read *****