a Crooked Creek Farm Year’ by Arwen Donahue describes life on a small farm

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During the period in which Arwen wrote the book she and her husband David were growing fruits and vegetables and selling them through a CSA (community supported agriculture) program that had about 60 subscribers. During the growing season the couple would make weekly trips to Lexington to drop off the farm’s produce for their supporters.

Here reflections, observations, and meditations on farming, nature, climate change, ethics, sustainability, and rural life, are pithy, intimate, and wise. Here are some examples that convey the flavors she conjures up in her writing. I’ll leave it to readers to discover the magic of her artwork for themselves.

On splitting firewood: “It strikes me, in watching how the wood is willing to split, that there is a central point from which rays emerge, each ray a potential fault line, and in this way the wood is like sunlight in solid form. The tree, made by the sun, mirrors the sun in its heart.”

Listening to frogs: “Meanwhile, the peeps keep seeping in, until they merge into a song of one note, simmering with rhythmic variations. It’s a musical score for the drifting clouds, for the swerve of a flock of red-winged blackbirds. The birds illuminate the frogs’ song: they are many, but they are one. Communication contracts to communion.”

Nightfall:” At the creek crossing near the meadow, where the branch meets Straight Run, it’s nearly dark, and the water sings like bells over the stones, Then the rain comes, light enough to be little more than a sound, more heard than field, a blurring of the clarity.”

When cows escaped: “I pick my way through brambly thickets of blackberry, wild rose, and poison ivy until I am uphill of the cows, pretending to be calm. If I move quickly, they may bolt, so I exercise a subtle cowgirl art, grazing on wild blackberries as they grab mouthfuls of grass, keeping my body between them and the woods, nudging them down toward the house and the lane, which will funnel them back to the child.”

The holidays are drawing near, this large format book could make a thoughtful gift.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 am on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at vick@vickmickunas.com

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