In my previous blog entry, I introduced you to Edward Payson Roe, a Christian agrarian writer from the 1800s. In this blog I’d like to share some choice quotations from a couple of his books. Take a moment to read these and I think you’ll start to appreciate Mr. Roe's writing.
Those who need much instruction in regard to [planting] bush-beans should remain in the city and raise cats in their paved back yards. We shall only warn against planting too early--not before the last of April in our region. It does not take much frost to destroy the plants, and if the soil is cold and wet, the beans decay instead of coming up.
There is a large class who believe in small fruits, and know their value. They enjoy them amazingly at a friend's table, and even buy some when they are cheap. A little greater outlay and a little intelligent effort would give them an abundant supply from their own grounds. In a vague way they are aware of this, and reproach themselves for their negligence, but time passes and there is no change for the better. Why? I don't know. There are men who rarely kiss their wives and children. For them the birds sing unheeded and even unheard; flowers become mere objects, and sunsets suggest only "quitting time." In theory they believe in all these things. What can be said of them save that they simply jog on to-day as they did yesterday, ever dimly hoping at some time or other "to live up to their privileges"? But they usually go on from bad to worse, until, like their neglected strawberry-beds, they are "turned under."
One may delve in the earth so long as to lose all dread at the thought of sleeping in it at last; and the luscious fruits and bright-hued flowers that come out of it, in a way no one can find out, may teach our own resurrection more effectually than do the learned theologians.
Living without books and pictures is only a little worse than living in the country without fruits and flowers. We must respect to some extent the old ascetics, who, in obedience to mistaken ideas of duty, deprived themselves of the good things God provided, even while we recognize the stupidity of such a course. Little children are rarely so lacking in sense as to try to please their father by contemptuously turning away from his best gifts, or by treating them with indifference.
The bush producing this exquisite fruit is like an uncouth-looking poet who gives beauty from an inner life, but disappoints in externals. It is low-branching and unshapely, and must be forced into good form--the bush, not the poet--by the pruning-knife. If this is done judiciously, no other variety will bear more profusely or present a fairer object on a July day.
As mere articles of food, these fruits are exceedingly valuable. They are capable of sustaining severe and continued labor. For months together we might become almost independent of butcher and doctor if we made our places produce all that nature permits. Purple grapes will hide unsightly buildings; currants, raspberries, and blackberries will grow along the fences and in the corners that are left to burdocks and brambles. I have known invalids to improve from the first day that berries were brought to the table, and thousands would exchange their sallow complexions, sick headaches, and general ennui for a breezy interest in life and its abounding pleasures, if they would only take nature's palpable hint, and enjoy the seasonable food she provides.
Belles can find better cosmetics in the fruit garden than on their toilet tables, and she who paints her cheeks with the pure, healthful blood that is made from nature's choicest gifts, and the exercise of gathering them, can give her lover a kiss that will make him wish for another.
This post is the second of four
in a series about E.P. Roe.
in a series about E.P. Roe.
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