Greetings from Los Angeles! I’m on the road again for work. The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball is a book that I read on the airplane from Grand Rapids to Los Angeles. And what a book it was! You know how some books completely suck you in, and make you reflect upon your own life? The Dirty Life was like that.
I was skeptical when I received the book for review. I grew up a farmer’s daughter, and to me life on the farm was far from glamorous. I counted myself lucky because my dad grew potatoes and onions, which meant I only had to work on the farm in the summer pulling weeds, and some Saturdays in autumn picking potatoes on the great big conveyor belt. My friends whose parents had dairy farms had chores every day, morning and night. They came to school smelling of iodine and barn, and had to get up super early.
When I was young, my mom always told me to never marry a farmer, at least not if you want to spend time with him. My Dad worked hard, and it was completely normal in our rural town. At church soup suppers during harvest time there would be large stacks of “to go” bowls so that women could bring home some soup and pie for their husbands, who were harvesting at least until dark.
So when I read the back cover and learned that this book was about a woman from the city who fell in love and became a farmer, I was prepared to stifle my gag reflex and read a totally sappy, unrealistic portrayal of farming in America. Luckily it wasn’t like that at all.
Kimball pulls no punches, and is completely honest about the un-glamorous side of farming, as I should have figured out from the title, The Dirty Life. She talks about the difficulty and dirtyness of the farm, of society’s view of farmers, and touches briefly on the plight of conventional farmers (go big or sell out).
Yet she also talks about the soul of farming, the part of my childhood I remember fondly even though it was a large conventional farm, something that was still there amid the machinery and stress, something that lived in my small community and which I have rediscovered by participating in CSAs and getting involved in the local food movement.
The Dirty Life caused me to reflect on all of those emotions, feelings, about growing up in a rural farming community, wanting to get away to the big city, travel the world, then rediscovering my roots. I’m toying with the idea of a serial novel, one that I’ve been writing in my head since I was a little girl. If I decide to go for it, you’ll be the first to know
In the meantime, I highly recommend that you check out The Dirty Life.
This post linked to Simple Lives Thursday