Take Me to the Woods

Have you ever noticed that part of the magic of art is timing? A painting or song can resonate with one person and not another, or resonate with someone at age 30 but not 50.

My friend Jon Rombach keeps popping up in this blog. But he keeps being in the middle of a good story! I’m singing his praises this time because, well over a year ago, he gave me a book to read. In fact, he didn’t even give it to me; he gave it to my husband Mike, who was up in Wallowa County for a little creative-time solitude.

The book is We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich, published in 1942. I didn’t know anything about this book or its author, and I was in the middle of whatever city things I was doing, and I put it on the shelf.

Mike and I went to visit Jon in April for my birthday, and I had long forgotten about the book at that point. Maybe Jon had too, as he didn’t mention it.

A couple weeks ago, I started packing for our impending move to the same Wallowa County. If we’d known we were going to move there ourselves, we might have chosen a different vacation destination, for variety’s sake. It’s safe to say we are drawn to the area.

In any case, I was packing books and came across this old hardcover. Oh yeah—that book Jon sent my way! Jon is an entertaining writer, as evidenced in his blog, so I should have known any book he recommended would be the same.

Available in paperback these days ...

Available in paperback these days …

We Took to the Woods was a great read! Rich is sort of a Betty MacDonald (The Egg & I) of the East Coast, but more enthusiastic about living in a remote place and not critical of the shortcomings of her neighbors. (Though, to be fair, Rich went by choice.) She describes a number of activities that serve as entertainment as well as historical record, such as working a cross-cut saw or running logs through a series of dams. She describes how people interact with nature—as participants or as tourists—showing how in the last century nothing has changed but the gear. And she prefers as her winter footwear wool socks under rubber-soled tennis shoes. Total badass.

What I like about her approach is that she neither glorifies rural living nor demonizes it. It is harder than city living; it is worth the effort. Same thing I was going for with Get Your Pitchfork On.

I’m glad the right time for me to read this book finally arrived!

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