A third collection of wistful autobiographical essays by the author of A Continuing Education (1985) and The Right Distance (1987). Pickering's meditations span his nonworking summer farm in Nova Scotia, reminiscences of days at Cambridge, England (where, finding himself standing next to Harold Wilson, he stifled an overwhelming urge to goose the former PM), old family scrapbooks, and a visit to his former high school in Nashville. In all, he adopts a wryness about life and an ability to not take himself too seriously that makes for congenial reading. Never far away from nature--the title essay, for instance, is about the first glimmer of spring--he throws perspective on everyday pretensions. To cope with life, he writes, ""requires clear vision and a sense of reality with its oranges and chickens. . .""; ""instead of sustaining self-knowledge,"" the overblown language of academe ""nurtures withering confusion."" Pickering, finally, sees the world from both sides, and is not duped by fantasies of nature: ""The meadow of dream has little to do with stony reality and its harrows and reapers."" Refreshing little gems.