A gardening columnist reflects on raising children, animals and vegetables on an Iowa farm in this collection of essays that highlights the adventure and difficulty that come with the so-called simple life.
The majority of the anecdotes in Weir-Jimerson’s (Better Homes & Gardens Herb Gardening, 2011) debut essay collection originated as columns in various rural-themed publications (Country Home, Country Almanac, Horticulture), and they never stray too far from the unpaved country road. Divided by season, the 55 essays cover pastoral topics, from training a driving horse and planting fingerling potatoes to ducking errant bulls, blizzards and tornadoes. Along the way, there’s a lot to be enjoyed and a lot to be learned from Weir-Jimerson, a Master Gardener and apt tamer of land, child and beast. For some though, the pseudo-lessons might be a bit too much. The folksy essays, though well written, often prove more descriptive and informative than reflective, making the collection more of a country field guide for outsiders than a memoir for like minds. There are, however, a handful of essays and asides in which the former poetry student expresses her tender side. Reflections on a childhood lake house, a description of a late-night hydrangea-harvesting adventure, and thoughts from the window of a snowed-in farmhouse reveal a broader voice that contrasts with the more domineering (and funny) quips about child rearing, barnyard antics and the goings-on of state and local fairs. This poetic version of Weir-Jimerson is the one you want to share tea with in the farm’s drawing room, but more often, your ear is pulled away by her expert side in her eagerness to teach the finer points of trapping mice or rooting burdock seeds out of a Great Pyrenees’ fur. While these musings are insightful, it’s likely that they’ve already reached their intended audience on the pages of country-minded periodicals.
A scattering of thoughtful, poetic moments amid essays that focus on farm life.