Two books right now, one fiction and one non-fiction. First, the fiction: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I re-read this one (revisit it?) every few years. Brideshead is quite different from Waugh’s other novels like The Loved One, Scoop, or Men at Arms, which are wickedly funny satires. Brideshead is a melancholy story of one man’s search for love. This man, Charles Ryder, is drawn into the orbit of a family of aristocratic Catholics, whose ancestral house, Brideshead, serves as the setting for much of the story. Charles is drawn by the exotic strangeness of the family, the beauty of the house, and, unknown to him, by divine grace that he is quite ill-equipped to understand. Religion is a persistent presence at Brideshead, but Charles is mystified and both put off and strangely attracted. After one conversation, he reflects: “How often, it seemed to me, I was brought up short, like a horse in full stride suddenly refusing an obstacle, backing against the spurs, too shy even to put his nose at it and look at the thing.” Charles is eventually compelled to look at the thing, and, without giving too much away, by the end of the book, he loses everything, but gains much.
Second: All Flesh is Grass: Pleasures & Promises of Pasture Farming by Gene Logsdon. This is an inspiring and informative book about raising animals on pasture. It is geared toward people working on modest parcels of land. It covers such vital aspects as fencing, seeding, animal rotation, and weed control. Sound dry? It’s not. Especially if you have a few acres and an itch to put those acres to productive use. My fencing is going up this summer. The cow and calf are coming in the fall.