The encyclopedic work of two masterful gardeners presents an idyllic picture of Vermont country life.
For Eck and Winterrowd (Our Life in Gardens, 2009), their farm in southern Vermont has always been a little piece of heaven on earth. Here, the authors plant a lifetime of knowledge in this collection of short essays, each one focused on a different edible product of their land and labor. Far from the popular trend of urbanites-turned-farmers-turned-writers, however, Eck and Winterrowd bring more than 40 years of experience to the table, championing “the vital human need” to witness hard work and achievement united by dirt and patience. Unlike other textbook-dry treatises on the do’s and don’ts of gardening, the writing here is as rich as dark soil. Mixed in with cultural and botanical histories of apples, asparagus and beets are practical tips and gardening secrets for the seasoned and beginner gardener alike. The authors colorfully render daily life with the companionship of pigs, hens and cows, and the home cook finds bounty here too; rare recipes, sourced from Italian grandmothers, first-century cookbooks and other corners of the authors’ well-traveled lives, pepper the pages. Eck and Winterrowd celebrate good eating and good living with a kind of reverence reminiscent of Wendell Berry and a sensuality that evokes M.F.K. Fisher. Notably, Winterrowd died before the book’s publication, and Eck’s obvious grief and heartache strike a quiet but heavy chord. It’s a memoir about falling in love continuously, season after season, and a lesson in caring tenderly for each other and the land.
Full and fragrant, this book will satisfy the appetite of anyone with a taste for simple pleasures.