I’m currently reading a book that I have a great deal of affection for. I’ve read it before and it became one of my favourite books on first read. But reading it again a few years later, I find that I’m going a lot more slowly and I’m better able to appreciate the quality of the writing, the cadence of the words and the beauty and elegance of the writer’s thoughts. I thought he was wise before, but now I feel like I’m finding an insight in every other paragraph.
The book is an old one, written in the early years of the last century by a gentleman who went by the pen name of David Grayson. It is called Adventures in Contentment. It is a memoir, an account of a young man who left the life and the busyness of the city behind and found his joy on a farm. This is the theme of hundreds of memoirs that have come out since, but David Grayson is one of the originals.
This book is a vivid account of his experiences and a thoughtful examination of his life. It is insightful in the way that every now and then, it makes me stop and think, re-read what I have just read and think some more. His prose is luminous, the kind that has me highlighting passages on every page and adding comments almost as often. I’m reading the digital version of this book, so I feel free to highlight and comment to my heart’s content.
Here’s a sample.
“One morning I wakened with a strange, new joy in my soul. It came to me at that moment with indescribable poignancy, the thought of walking barefoot in cool, fresh plow furrows as I had once done when a boy. So vividly the memory came to me–the high airy world as it was at that moment, and the boy I was walking free in the furrows–that the weak tears filled my eyes, the first I had shed in many years. Then I thought of sitting in quiet thickets in old fence corners, the wood behind me rising still, cool, mysterious, and the fields in front stretching away in illimitable pleasantness. I thought of the good smell of cows at milking–you do not know, if you do not know!–I thought of the sights and sounds, the heat and sweat of the hay fields. I thought of a certain brook I knew when a boy, that flowed among alders and wild parsnips, where I waded with a three-foot rod for trout. I thought of all these things as a man thinks of his first love. Oh, I craved the soil. I hungered and thirsted for the earth. I was greedy for growing things.”
I love this passage. Particularly that last line. “I was greedy for growing things.” It expresses so well that need to be in a place that is green, where things grow and life can be lived the way it was meant to be, slowly, deliberately, thoughtfully.
The book is full of gems like this and well worth a read. This is book is now old enough to be in the public domain and the version that I’m reading is the digital version created by Project Gutenberg so it will be easy to find for those of you who might want to go ahead and read it.