The artistry of this book is amazing on so many levels. First there’s the artistry of a life well-lived. I continually had to remind myself that this wasn’t fiction, someone actually lived this. Then there is the timeless quality of the tale itself, reaching across eras to tell a coming of age story that is as meaningful today as surely it was in the bygone era the novel depicts. The same qualities which went into molding someone of larger than life character are as pertinent today as ever, if perhaps, the opportunities for maturing the mind, body, and spirit are fewer. For ours is an often callous and callow age, both. Fraught with a focus on all that glitters, sound bites, and mind-blowing news events ripped out of context, a world almost in chaos. Reading these pages restores a kind of internal order and exposes a method beyond the madness, which adhered to might well bring our world back from the brink.
In these pages is great adventure and great fun, in a way that recalls Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. There is back to the land wisdom that would put a smile on the face of any avid reader of Mother Earth news who fancies independence and self-sufficiency. As part of the food for the mind, body, and soul that this book offers up, are pages interspersed with dazzling poetry. One begins to glimpse a man that perhaps is hard to pin down to the era in which he writes as he would be today. Perhaps he is forever a man out of time precisely because he is so much larger than life. Or perhaps this is what is meant by a mindful existence, as the Buddhists would say.
If the book seems to reach out of time, then it also broaches the age barrier. I can see parents reading these pages to their kids of virtually any age as they take stock of the simple things and the simple life of which we’ve often lost touch today. And as they remind themselves how it’s the little things, in a life lived so simplistically and honestly and so full of spirit that we may begin to renew ourselves. Anyone thinking this is just a story about growing up on a farm couldn’t be more wrong.