Thursday, March 22, 2012

Who and Where

Just received a new (2012) book by Atina Diffley today—a memoir of her and her husband's decades as organic market gardeners on fifth-generation land in Minnesota. I had seen a great review of the book, not only praising the story but the author's beautiful writing.

After cutting the grass I sat down on the front porch and paged through the portfolio of beautiful color photos in the center of the book that tell the story of their farming lives. And then picked a random spot and began reading—about the day Atina delivered their second child, Maize (because his newborn hair looked like corn tassle).

Atina worked in the fields until a couple hours before giving birth, then called the midwife and delivered the baby—just a few minutes after her husband came in off the tractor and showered.

Just hours after being born, Maize was introduced to the farm and has been in the thick of things ever since. I love this portrait of his place in the market stand they run on the farm:

"[Maize] can hear my voice as I move around working the stand, and I can see him from wherever I am. Not only do I know he is safe, but he is right there in the center of our business, surrounded by produce and customers, learning sales and relationships on an intuitive level. He will know what his parents do, how we earn money, and what our values are. He will know where he is from and who he is." (p. 90).

Has whatever good the Industrial Revolution produced been greater than the harm of separating parents from children, sending parents off to jobs "in the city" unrelated to the life of the home? Isn't knowing "where he is from and who he is" more important than almost anything?

I think this will be a great book. (5-9-12 update: Read an in-depth, excellent review of the book here.)

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