Having packed up, migrated to the Catskills, and constructed her own barn, Zistel, the author of many children's books about animals (and an earlier memoir) spends her days chopping firewood, sunning in the pasture with her pets, and keeping an eye on their doings. Samson and Pixie, her pet goats, a peanut-pinching chipmunk named Pest, and a three-pawed cat, Squeak, prove relaxing examples. Zistel attempts to content herself--as they do--with the bare essentials for survival, to accept what nature provides, and to concentrate on the present rather than worry about past or future--philosophies she quietly passes along. When a winter famine drives wild chipmunks to her barn, she studies the behavior of these constant squabblers and ludicrously fastidious house-keepers. And when a gift pair of mice multiply to a thousand, she devises a makeshift coffee-can, apartment-complex and becomes, unwittingly, a mouse maid. Without soggy sentimentality, Zistel narrates the death of her animals, and touchingly reveals her wish that her own death be a stride out of life with the animals by her side. This one is for those who feel that animals make better companions than humans, and who aren't put off by storybook wiles.