An affectionate look back at agrarian America before the industrial revolution. Profusely illustrated with a plethora of historic images from the Library of Congress, "Rural America" helps us understand where we're going with a nostalgic look back at where we've come from.
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From the author's introduction:
"I recorded here the musing of a curious mind, a cerebral reaching for some bridge between who we once were and who we have become as a nation, viewed in the context of a way of life that is as old as the country itself. Interspersed with my words is a collection of fascinating photographs that bring closer to home some of the images that passed through my mind as I wrote. I hope you will enjoy the time you spend with this book, if only to allow yourself the kind of meditation and mental "breathing space" that it celebrates."
Many of us find a sense of place on a sojourn into the country. For some of us, the feeling of belonging might come while walking a rural back road, or while making our way through a long-forgotten orchard strewn with fallen apples. For others, the revelation comes while sitting on the edge of a cold mountain brook or watching heat waves shimmer off the desert floor. For still others, it occurs while standing amidst a wheat field, listening to the rusty c-r-e-a-k of a windmill still pumping away for a family long since gone. We've never been here before, but somehow we know this place. It is ours, and it has always been ours. In the most profound sense, it is us, and we are it.
If knowledge is power, then self-knowledge is close to omnipotence. But this knowledge exacts a price that we cannot anticipate until the bill is paid. The same collective subconscious that responded to our inquiry requires an even exchange from us. Whenever we experience our own personal epiphany, the repayment begins. Some small echo, a remembered ache, brings us back to this place where, lives ago, we played as children, sweated under a blistering sun, broke the ground for the first time, lost a loved one. We know, and the land reminds us. It demands that we remember. And the memory, once manifest, never leaves. It haunts us through myriad details for the rest of our days.
That quiet voice is what makes us notice the shifting angle of the sun as it slides from the zenith of summer magnificence to its autumnal equinox. It is the pull at our hearts when we hear the geese honking overhead on their journey south to warmer lands. Memory is what makes us turn around and go back when we pass the tumbledown remains of an old farmstead, to search among the ruins of someone else's dreams for a fleeting insight into our own uncertain lives.