Aug 8, 2011

A Country Year

Living the Questions
by Sue Hubbell

Sue Hubbell lives on a farm in the Ozark hills with several thousand honeybees. She is a small-scale commercial beekeeper, stationing her hives in beeyards around her community, collecting their honey and then trucking it to nearby states for sales. Her existence is full of challenges, often scraping below the poverty line. But it is also full of beauty and a closeness to the wild things that inhabit the land with her. Unlike most of her neighbors, who consider creatures like snakes, possums and coyotes vermin and try to get rid of them on sight, she is delighted to observe them and write down the things she learns and the new questions that spring to mind upon seeing unexplained things happen in nature. Like an oriole perching on a hummingbird feeder to guzzle sugar water. Or a column of saw-fly larvae marching across the ground single-mindedly (to what goal she could not figure out). Even the snakes and roaches that invade her beehives and the termites that eat her cabin floor are treated with leniency, given space to do their thing unmolested (more or less; she used to evict roaches from her hives until she realized the bees did a better job of it themselves and their failure to do so indicated a colony weakness she had better be aware of).

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Country Year, with its mixture of nature writing, observations on humanity (she has a lot of interesting descriptions of neighbors and acquaintances) and stuff about beekeeping. Her voice reminds me a lot of my favorite gardening writer, Thalassa Cruso, and the book also recalls another one I read about minutiae in nature, Wildlings. Whatever else I can find that Sue Hubbell has written, I know I want to read it.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 221 pages, 1983

more opinions at:
the Stay at Home Bookworm
Notes from the Officer's Club
rick librarian

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