Monday, November 16, 2009

The Starry-eyed Book Geek That I Am

I'll admit it. I have a bit of a groupy mentality, but not for the garden-variety celebrities.

I tend to enjoy songs, but not bands, and I like movies, but not stars. Afterall, I live in Maine, where John Travolta and Kelly Preston own property on an island and Demi Moore owns a mansion on Sebago Lake, Loretta Swit runs for town offices, Patrick Dempsey builds a hospital wing and runs a marathon to raise money for it, and the Bush family lives in Kennebunkport (I've driven by their house).

When it comes to books, though, it's different. I do like certain books, but I also tend to follow certain authors.

A few years ago, when Barbara Kingsolver wrote Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life , I knew, without even a pause, that I would be buying her book. The topic was one about which I am incredibly passionate (simplfying and localizing our food), and she is one of my favorite authors. I loved, LOVED The Poisonwood Bible

I just have a little more respect for authors, because, in my opinion, it takes a little more ... something ... to sit down and write a book, and then get someone to actually publish it. I think they deserve recognition for their accomplishments.

Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet an author, whom I have followed for some time via her blog, which I thoroughly enjoy, as she has such an incredibly endearing wit, and she is extremely knowledgable (although I'm pretty sure that she wouldn't necessarily agree with that). What I completely love about her blog, and after meeting her, her personality, is that she is just fearless. She seems to be the kind of person who just jumps right in, no hesitation, full-body immersion, eyes wide open. Fearless.

It was a perfect day with good Maine weather - a raw chill with a steady drizzle. As luck would have it, I had to park three blocks away from the store and walk, because parking in Portland just totally sucks. But the walk was good, because it gave me the chance to calm my nerves.

Still, I have to admit that when I walked into the bookstore, and there stood Novella Carpeneter, in the flesh, I was a little flustered. I didn't quite know what to do, and I'm pretty sure that I came across as a complete ninny.

She was completely professional and very gracious and allowed me to babble for a few minutes, until she excused herself to visit the little girls' room before the talk began. Yeah, uh ... well, no, actually, it didn't hurt my feelings. Seriously. It had to have been hard to stand in the glow of my adoration ;). I'm such a wannabe.

Anyway ...

She read a couple of passages from her book, Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, (a copy of which I now own :), and then, allowed a Q&A, during which she made some very interesting points.

She said that the recession is actually very good for urban farmers, because development has slowed (or in some places, stopped altogether), which means that the owners of vacant urban lots are more likely to allow some cultivation to take place.

In answer to a question, she said that one of the best communities for urban gardening with regard to city planning is Detroit, for a couple of reasons. First, the planning board in Detroit has actually mapped out areas for urban gardening, which is very cool. Apparently, they've been doing it for a while, and it's not a new-since-the-recession thing for them. In addition, right now, especially, land is incredibly cheap up there, and one could buy adjacent properties for about the cost of a cup of coffee, live in one house and turn the other one into a barn.

She was joking (I think) about the barn, although she admitted that she'd love to have a barn. Me, too, and I keep eyeballing the cabins my neighbor has next door ....

Some comments from the audience prompted her to admit that urban farmers actually hope for the apocalypse, because we want to be able to ride our mules (the ones we'll be allowed to own on our urban/suburban lots only after everything has collapsed) to town.

I am thankful to Deus Ex Machina for taking over ferrying duties today for me so that I could go and hear Novella's talk. When I got home, he asked, "Was it everything you hoped it would be?"

And, yes, with the exception of walking back to the car in the pouring rain, it was wonderful ... and even with having to ride home in soaking wet clothes, I do it all again.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Wendy, our thinking is very similar! I would have felt exactly the same way in the presence of an author I loved! I also bought Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and have reread it a few times. It really does exemplify the type of localized and more self-sufficient community culture (filled with barter, trade and just neighbor helping neighbor) I hope to attain and enjoy (and am striving toward). I am sure you've checked out her website? She's just awesome!

    Here in Buxton, things move a bit more slowly. I am already planning my spring garden as I put my 2009 garden to rest for the winter. I'm winterizing the windows because, as you and I know, winter will truly arrive and puff this Indian Summer away soon enough - so I'm soaking in each drop of sunshine and warmth I can! :)