Vermont Humanities Council Discussion Series

Please join us for a guided book discussion Wednesday, February 23, at 6 pm, with Vermont Humanities Council scholar Linda Bland, at the Montgomery Town Library. This discussion is part 2 of a 4-part “Farms and Gardens” Series offered by the Vermont Humanities Council, hosted by the Montgomery Town Library and also the Arvin A. Brown Library in Richford. (Refreshments will be served.)

This month’s selection is A Country Year: Living the Questions, Sue Hubbell’s chronicle of living on a 99-acre farm on a peninsula between two rivers in the Missouri Ozarks from one springtime to another one—five seasons. A former academic librarian, she moved to this farm with her husband in the early 1970s after they quit their jobs to pursue a life close to the land. After only a few years, her husband left their 30-year marriage. She found solace in beekeeping (300 hives) and in exploring the natural world around her. In this book, the reader can see that Hubbell’s is an inquisitive mind. The questions she asks take her deep, whether into the world of bees —or frogs, or chickens, or bats, or other creatures— or  into an understanding of what it means to be an independent female human in midlife.

Selections from the book:

“My chicken operation, I like to believe, is one of the few straightforward bits of farming that goes on at my place. But during the past few weeks I have been trying to get the chickens organized to sleep inside the coop, and in doing so I’ve been forced to think like a chicken, which is not very straightforward at all. ”

—-

“I have learned to pay attention in the springtime when the air feels electric and full of excitement. It was just so one day last week. I had been working quietly along the row of twelve hives in an outyard when the hair on the back of my neck began to stand on end. I looked up to see the air thick with bees flying toward me from the north. The swarm was not from any of my hives, but for some reason bees often cluster near existing hives while they scout a new location. I closed up the hive I was working on and stood back to watch. I was near a slender post oak sapling, and the bees began to light on  one of its lower limbs right next to my elbow. They came flying in, swirling as they descended, spiraling around me and the post oak until I was enveloped by the swarm, the air moving gently from the beat of their wings. I am not sure how long I stood there. I lost all sense of time and felt only elation, a kind of human emotional counterpart of the springlike, optimistic, burgeoning state that the bees were in. I stood quietly; I was nothing more to the bees than an object to be encircled on their way to the spot where they had decided, in a way I could not know, to cluster. In another sense, I was not remote from them at all, but was receiving all sorts of meaningful messages in the strongest way imaginable outside of human mental process and language. My skin was tingling as the bees brushed past and I felt almost a part of the swarm.”

—–

“Once in a while there comes along a book so calm, so honest, so beautiful that even the most jaded or cynical readers have to say thank you….This is such a book.” –San Diego Tribune

About the Vermont Humanities Scholar, Linda Bland:

Linda Bland’s first book, Don’t Stop at Green Lights, was released by Adams Media. She has led Council reading groups in 6 towns since 2000.  A former literary agent, Linda has taught writing for 25 years at five Vermont colleges and universities, Burton Snowboards, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and the State of Vermont. Her reading group leadership includes communication with the book’s author, provocative questions, and humor.

Several copies of A Country Year, and all the books in this discussion series, are available to borrow from both the Montgomery Town Library and also the Arvin A. Brown Library in Richford.

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