Tuesday, May 13, 2014
A Farm Dies Once A Year by Arlo Crawford
Synopsis From Dust Jacket:
The summer he was thirty-one, Arlo Crawford returned home for the season at New Morning Farm - ninety-five acres tucked into a hollow in south-central Pennsylvania where his parents had been growing organic vegetables for almost forty years. Unlike other summers from year before, this time he was there to change direction, as his father had years ago.
In the 1970s, Arlo's father, Jim, left behind law school and Vietnam to try his hand at farming. What began as a tentative experiment in a new, more authentic way of living is now a family's fragile livelihood. Years of farming has resulted in a familiar pattern: long days, uncertain weather, and busy markets, all set against the wild beauty of the Appalachian ridges. The cycle of these days will be endlessly repeated as the land is born and dies once each year: the anticipation and optimism of spring planting, the long march through the summer harvest and into fall, followed by the inevitable quiet of winter. As Arlo bends, picks, sorts, and sweats his way through the farm's rhythms, he begins to appreciate the depth of his parent's commitments to the acres where they've made their lives. His return also prompts a reexamination of the murder of a neighboring farmer twenty years before, a tragedy that underscores just how much a farm can ask of those who tend it.
Imagine yourself sitting down at a desk, keyboard in front of you, and writing a love letter to your parents. You want to tell them how much you love them, how appreciative you are of the way they raised you, how much you admire their strength, and how you will never truly feel as if you have lived up to their example. You want them to understand how much they mean to you, how truly magnificent they are in your eyes. You want to thank them for allowing you to have your own life, to follow your own path, even though it's not the one they themselves had chosen. But most of all, you just want to say I love you. A Farm Dies Once a Year, is that letter. It's not in the words you would have used, but that's only because it's not your story, it's Arlo Crawford's.
With this book, he opened up this part of his story for the rest of us to experience. The love and devotion his feels towards his parents, and towards their lives, wafts from each page. He set the example on what it means to connect back to you roots, to really explore your childhood through mature eyes, and to allow yourself to say thank you. He gives us all permission to go back home, to reconnect with our families and with our pasts. But most of all, he makes it cool for us adults to tell our parents thank you, that we love them, cherish them, and that they will be missed when they are gone.