One Man's Ruminations About Faith, Family, and Livin' The Good Life
"If a community, or a section, or a race, or an age, is groaning under industrialism, and well aware that it is an evil dispensation, it must find a way to throw it off. To think that this cannot be done is pusillanimous. And if the whole community, section, race, or age thinks it cannot be done, then... it has doomed itself to impotence." —Twelve Southerners
Summer Felicity 2008
Strawberries and blueberries and raspberries are all beautiful in their own way, but they just don’t compare to clusters of grapes on the vine.
I grew up in the suburbs eating supermarket grapes—the juicy, seedless kind grown somewhere other than around here. It would be sometime in my teen years before I experienced a New-York-grown grape right off the vine. The center was more slimy than juicy, and it had seeds. Ugh! Who would want to eat those dreadful things?
Well, my tastes have changed. Now I prefer a homegrown grape to those prissy storeboughts. And the earthy, undiluted, sweet juice from those berries is, in my opinion, the quintessence in fruit-of-the-vine beverages. Far better than wine.
The above picture is of my Concord grapes in July. They will ripen from green to blue-black and we will harvest every last grape. Not one will go to waste.
Summer delights here are more often than not, simple, like dill pickles in the making. The cukes are, of course, homegrown, as is the dill.
The ever changing interplay of earth and sky and sunlight is something that we here in the countryside notice and appreciate every day. There are times, when the sun is setting, that the light is especially rich. Such was the case when I took the above picture.
I grabbed my camera and ran outside, hoping to capture the scene of billowing cumulonimbus clouds in a blue sky, with golden hay stubble and big bales on the ground. My son was riding his four-wheeler in the field and I waved him over for a picture. He is a lean, tawny, country boy and a blessing to his parents. His name is Robert E. Lee Kimball (note the stars and bars by his knee).
Once again, summer hereabouts means little chickens in a “chicken tractor” on our lawn. These cute little featherweights will grow up to be plump roasters that we will harvest and load into the freezer.
We went to the New York State Pageant of Steam again this summer. I think it might turn into a family tradition. It was a good time. In addition to old tractors, and steam engines, and saw mills, and a flea market, and such, they had a few old pickups. I happen to like old pickups. When we saw the 1947 Ford in the above picture my son Robert said, “I’m going to buy you a truck like that someday, Dad!” I don’t need a truck like that but I liked hearing him say those words. The lad in the foreground is my 13-year-old, James—yet another blessing.
You never know what surprises you’ll find at the steam show. Last year there was a genuine Crosley Icy Ball ice box. It’s hard to beat a find like that. But this year’s surprise find was even better. That thing in the picture above is a Quadractor. I had never seen a Quadractor outside of a magazine picture. What a thrill.
Another part of summer that I enjoy is library book sales. Fifty cents for any paperback and a dollar for any hardcover. At the most recent sale in Moravia (my hometown) I spent an hour blissfully absorbed in searching the tables for books that interested me. I ended up spending five dollars for the books pictured above. They are:
How to Keep Hens For Profit (copyright 1913)
Virginians at Home: Family Life in the Eighteenth Century
George Washington’s Horse Slept Here (about a family that bought an old barn in Long Island in 1950 and turned it into a house)
The Yankee Peddlers of Early America (“An Affectionate History of Life and Commerce in the Developing colonies and the Young Republic”)
Letters of E. B. White
I have started reading the letters of EB White first. Elwyn Brooks White was born in 1899. Back then there was no e-mail. People communicated to far off family and friends by putting words on paper and sending the letters through the mail. Evidently they also saved the letters they received, at least they did the ones from EB White.
Back in 1976, as many letters as could be found were rounded up and put into the book. It is a 686-page compilation of White’s life story, along with so many personal letters, beginning with some from when he was nine years old. It makes for a surprisingly entertaining book that I am enjoying far more than I ever expected.
You may recall that E.B.White’s most famous book was “Charlotte’s Web.” Almost of equal popularity is “The Elements of Style,” a book about how to write well which he co-authored with his Cornell professor, William Strunk, Jr.
E.B was an entertaining writer, and I like his style. I am currently up to 1937. White had been working at the New Yorker magazine and yearned for the country. He didn’t like the city because “the pavements were hard and they didn’t have any broody hens.” So, at 38 years old, he decides to quit his job, take a year off, and live at his summer home in North Brooklin, Maine.
One of the first things EB does is go see the town smith, Mr. Allen, to have him make an ax head. Then he sets about making his own ash ax handle. In a letter to his wife, Katharine (who is still working at the New Yorker) he says: “I have had an entirely new feeling about life ever since making an ax handle.” He is also raising ten turkeys and various other animals.
I believe Katharine and their young son will join him shortly. And, of course, he will go on to achieve literary fame in the years ahead. I still have a lot of book to go.
Speaking of writing and taking time off, it is time for me to once again take leave of blogging, as I said I would a week or so back. This will be Phase II of my summer break from blogging. I would really like to head up to my summer home on the coast of Maine (which reminds me... E.B. White, feeling poorly in one letter, says that he would rather feel bad in Maine than good anywhere else in the world) but there is much too much to be done here.
I still have plenty to say and share with you about “Living the Good Life,” and whatever else strikes my fancy. I hope you will stop back.
I've been blogging here about Faith, Family & Livin' The Good Life since 2005. Browse down this column and you will discover a rich resource of contra-industrial thought, down-to-earth inspiration & useful how-to information.
As of May 2013 I have ceased the regular once-a-month "blogazine" format and gone back to sporadic posting. Please sign up above to receive an e-mail notice when I post an essay to this blog.
CLICK HEREto view the archive of links to past Deliberate Agrarian monthly "blogazines."
Whizbang Gardening is Now in Print!
Click the book's cover to learn more
Have You Been To Planet Whizbang?
It's my deliberate agrarian home business. Click the beet and check it out.
My New York Times Op-Ed Article
The Jeffersonian Solution (click the man and read the article)
This Man, Now Deceased, Predicted The Economic Decline of America Back in The 1950's.
Click the picture to read about Professor Walter Prescott Webb's Boom Hypothesis of Modern History, and where we are headed from here
Agrarian-Style Economic Self Defense...
I posted this to the internet in early 2008. It is still the most practical advice you'll get for dealing with the harsh economic realities that we face now and will face even more in the years ahead. (click the picture to read the essay)
What Would an Agrarian Monetary System Look Like?
Well, for one thing, it would NOT be based on paper money. Click Andy Jackson for some details.
Thomas Jefferson's Warnings About Government Debt (Then and Now)
Read it and weep (click the president)
How Farmers Became Slaves To The Corporate Masters
Click on the mostly forgotton 1937 book by Professor Walter Prescott Webb and learn the sad story
Delmar Ain't So Stupid...
Click on Delmar and read why I think he's the smartest of the three characters in the "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" movie
It's my new blog. Click the picture and stop on by!
The Deliberate Agrarian Book
(click picture for details)
Have You Seen The Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe I Invented?
Click The Picture For Details about the hoe and the inexpensive wheel hoe kits I sell
A Christian-Agrarian perspective (click the picture to read the essay)
I Invite You To Read My Online Gardening Essays
Click on that beautiful handful of sifted compost.
Have You Seen Leo Sprauer's Handcrafted Hop Hoe?
Click the picture to learn more.
A Missive On The Prosperity-Driven Life
"The desire to be rich, to have an abundance of possessions and money, is the keystone of our modern, neo-Babylonian culture." (click the picture for my perspective)
Prosperity Gospel/ Prosperity Idolatry
Click the picture to hear John Piper's powerful 2.5 minute condemnation of the modern prosperity gospel
Have You Read Roe?
E.P. Roe, that is. Click on his picture to read some excerpts from this remarkable Christian-agrarian author of the 1800s.
Deliberate Agrarian Archives (From Before The New Monthly Format)