Bookstores

January 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dear readers,

At the risk of continuing shameless self-promotion, I’m wondering if any of you have favorite independent bookstores you’d like to tell me about?

I’m trying to get my act together in terms of marketing my book, since I’ve been fairly lackadaisical about it up till now – admittedly, because it makes me feel silly to promote myself. But you know? It’s not about me. It’s about the story, which in many ways isn’t even solely mine. Because the story is the product of so many life experiences that the world generously offered me, so many people I came into contact with, the space to daydream throughout my childhood, and the inspiration and creative nudges of so many other writers and their books.

There are lots more readers our there that I’d like to have access to this story. So I need to get over myself and figure out how to get this book in their hands. Girls who love horses have just gotta read this story.

So. As I explore more venues, what bookstores would you like me to know about? Could you provide me with the name and either the web address or street address so I can send them a reader’s copy? I’d be grateful!

I’m working on an author website right now – another thing I’ve shyly hung back from. I’ve got quite a bit of fine-tuning to do, and I need some fancy pictures of myself (and maybe some horses?), but keep checking back to get the link in a few weeks.

Other than that – what have you been reading lately? I’ve been alternating between Michael Pollan’s Second Nature and Holley Bishop’s Robbing the Bees and Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. It is fun to sit on the couch with three open books and to keep picking them up in intervals.

Bouts of Rain

November 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

I woke to heavy rain in the middle of the night. Well, early morning, really. The late evening hours had dragged into midnight and when at last I stumbled upstairs I lay in my bed surrounded by all the dark of loneliness. My poor dog, my faithful companion, is getting arthritic in the evenings, so I hadn’t urged her to walk up the stairs. I didn’t want to hear her whimper. It is always odd not having her there, though, the warm body of a creature who cares for me. My gratitude for dogs really cannot be expressed. Dogs love so willingly.

The rain wasn’t falling then, in the minutes of thought on my pillow, imaginings of another life with more people in it, more dogs, perhaps, and a horse or two. Daydreams can be a solace but at the times when they collide with the very reality of reality they can be horrid, a painful contrast, a look at what can’t be compared with what is. We all have these times, don’t we? When what’s good in our lives fades, and can’t be seen in the pressing gray of disappointments, and we are too tired to fight against the way we feel, and part of it is that we want the right to feel this way, after all.

In between sleeping and waking the rain started, pushed by wind, seemingly in fits and starts, heavy and light. The dog whined at the bottom of the stairs, so I went and got her, and felt glad for her. She snuggled up next to me and then, warm in the fleece and down, I wondered if the rabbits were sheltered enough. I dreamed of one of them chewing through his cage and escaping. I woke and thought perhaps they really ought to have more to protect them from the rain, but it was late/early and that rain fell heavy. I thought about it and then the rain subsided a little and feeling like a guilty, lazy person I pulled on muck boots over my pajamas, strapped on a headlamp, and went out into the eery blue. My plucky rabbits stood up on their hind legs to see me, and the two I had worried about were more damp than they should be. I propped wood against and over their cages and gave them little strokes on the forehead. “Poor darlings.” Though it wasn’t that cold. Thank goodness.

Back upstairs. Back to bed. In the slow morning the neighbor dog came over with her joyful wriggle of being. I started a fire. Put on the coffee. Watched the dogs play in their mouthy way. Decided I would write, because that is part of who I am, a part I can have some level of control over, no matter where I live or what I do or how I feel.

So then. So it is. Almost always, when I make the space to write, I can feel my very self start to settle, to orient itself within the tumble of this world. Writing, before it became a discipline, a major, a career move – before all that, writing came from a little girl’s instinct, a sort of unspoken and unidentified sense that this was something I could and must do. Pen in hand, fingertips on a keyboard, images becoming words becoming story – here is one of the ways that I remember who I am. Here is a partial fulfillment of the person a Very Good Creator made me to be. Yet without pressure; pressure gets pushed aside, and perfection is not the point, or the goal, or the reason why. Here I find my old, hopeful self. Reminding me: Do your gift. And keep dreaming. Bring as many dreams into reality as you can.

III. Nature, XXVIII, Autumn

September 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

-Emily Dickinson

Beatrix

June 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

It occurs to me that Beatrix Potter is a hero of mine.

We were watching the film Ms. Potter with my grandparents a few months ago, which surely embellishes as movies are apt to do. Still, in my (many years of) college studies I learned that in addition to creating her lovely children’s stories, Ms. Potter took on the cause of the small farmer. This determined, independent woman fought for the British countryside and published the most remarkable, beloved tales. Nature and community mattered to her. I can’t help but love her for it. And aim to do as much.

Conflict and resolve

June 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

“The most tragic conflict in the history of conservation is that between the conservationists and the farmers and ranchers. It is tragic because it is unnecessary. There is no irresolvable conflict here, but the conflict that exists can be resolved only on the basis of a common understanding of good practice. Here again we need to foster and study working models: farms and ranches that are knowledgeably striving to bring economic practice into line with ecological reality, and local food economies in which consumers conscientiously support the best land stewardship.”      - Wendell Berry, “Hope,” The Fatal Harvest Reader

* * * * *

I just want to add: yes. And you know, as far as we have to go, in my experience there are already many moving in this direction. Berry’s essay was published in 2002. Ten years later, I’ve come across an encouraging number of farmers who want to work with conservationists, and conservationists who are working to understand the needs of farmers. Have we adequately defined “a common understanding of good practice”? Oh, no. That will long be a conversation in progress, a dynamic and region-specific process. But to begin to agree on some fundamental principles of good practice, alongside an awareness of what humans need to survive both in the present and long-term, is a foundation that, I think, many have begun to build. And we’ll keep on building it, as more and more of us realize that we must.

What might not?

June 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

“If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey toward the stars?” – G.K. Chesterton

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

June 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

-William Butler Yeats, 1888

Remember

June 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus

A return to grazing

May 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s happening. Slowly. Because some of us stand behind it. Those who have learned by experience and those who are convinced by others’ experiences combined with ecological evidence. It needs to happen.

Let’s get down to this business of replacing cornfields with pasture, instead of the other way around. Let’s be putting ruminants out on that pasture where they belong. Okay?

Remember when I went to visit my friend Mae Rose at the ranch where she’s working in Nebraska?

Here’s the article that came out of the experience: Learning Mob Grazing on the Nebraska Sandhills.

It has a few opinions in it. We are of the opinionated sort. But I hope you read, learn, think, and enjoy it just a little.

Perception

May 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.” -Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

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