CLOSE TO THE LAND: Reflections on Re-Connecting by Jim Byford

CLOSE TO THE LAND: Reflections on Re-Connecting

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A homespun celebration of the Tennessee woodlands. Byford, dean of the agriculture college at the University of Tennessee, Martin, grew up among the red cedar forests of the Mississippi River bottomlands. In his book's best moments, he describes the simple pleasures of watching wild turkeys, whose movements signal the arrival of spring; of chasing fireflies on a summer evening; of studying the diets of squirrels and the migrations of moths. Byford is an unabashed hunting enthusiast--and, in the way of a good hunter, he is also an unabashed conservationist, aware of the rhythms of nature--and he has much to say about the pleasures of the chase, pleasures that not all of his readers may share. His prose is simple, perhaps deliberately so; he means to sound like a man of the country, and mostly he does. His book suffers only when he takes a preaching-to-the-choir tone to sing the well-worn hymns of the nature-writing genre: wilderness is good, cities are bad, animals of all descriptions are good, polluters and land-rapists are bad. (If one really needed another sermon on why it's important to take time in life to--shudder--stop and smell the roses, Byford provides one, too: ""Have you ever counted the number of minutes in a day?"" he writes. ""I'll save you the time. There are 1,440, and everybody has the same amount."") Mostly, though, Byford is content to pick up where the Foxfire books left off, providing handy tips on how to cure wild game, to follow a woodcock, to take care of your own little patch of trees. Readers with an interest in such things will find value in Byford's pages.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: Univ. of Tennessee