Volume 2: Issue 1 (Summer)

Summer Solstice 2021

Welcome to the Summer Solstice issue of Farmer-ish, an issue celebrating summer, and for the first time, we present a theme–on Thoreau. As we come out of a pandemic but continue to face difficult times related to climate change and political unrest, Thoreau’s works feel even more relevant to me. He was a naturalist, an environmentalist, and an abolitionist, fighting for equal rights for all people. He questioned the advancement of technology without consideration for the possible consequences. He understood that the value of an item could only be measured by the amount of time in your life you had to trade to get it. He has so much to teach us still today, and I feel eager to learn.

The title page art of Thoreau’s most famous work, Walden, was created by Thoreau’s sister, Sophia. photo credit: Library of Congress, public domain

I read Walden first as an undergraduate in college. It didn’t speak to me. I remember asking, “Who is this grumpy guy?” I read him again in my mid thirties and remember asking, “Where has Thoreau been all my life?” His work would be the beginning of a change in me–a change that led to me leaving a traditional but unhappy life as an academic to leading a life with my husband where we grow our own food and connect with nature each and every day of our lives.

Of course, it wasn’t just Thoreau who inspired me. I had always thought my husband reminded me a bit of Thoreau–grumpy, intellectual, skilled in a variety of areas, nature loving, creative–but, last year, when I read Thoreau’s biography by Laura Dassow-Walls and was able to read portions of Thoreau’s letters and journals, I was struck by just how much my husband’s personality type was similar to Thoreau’s. I was also struck by some of the similar experiences they had had.

When I was in the middle of reading the biography, I kept telling stories about Thoreau and talking about him, with much love in my voice, I am sure. Our little boy asked me if I loved Thoreau more than daddy. I smiled and said, “Oh sweetie, daddy is Thoreau.”

And, so today, on this beautiful Summer Solstice that also happens to fall on Father’s Day, I dedicate this issue to my husband. It is his writing and the writing of one of my friends who inspired me to launch Farmer-ish exactly one year ago. Their writing was so brilliant it seemed wrong for the world to not get to read it. Farmer-ish and my dream were born of that need to share the beauty and wisdom in the writing of my husband and my dear writer friend. Now, I am overwhelmed and overjoyed by the many talented writers who share their work with us. We are a journal growing from a place of love.

I hope you love this issue, as it feels like the greatest gift I can give you on this Solstice, our day of light here in the Northern hemisphere. There are works about Thoreau, works inspired by Thoreau-like topics, a very special interview with one of the greats in our field, John Forti, and so much more.

This morning, I helped hatch the final baby chick from a clutch of eggs, which are grand-chickens from my beautiful Poe who passed away in 2019. “Happy birthday” I said to the little black chick. The egg had been accidentally crushed by the mama, and the chick wasn’t progressing. But after just a little work, that baby wiggled out in my hands, and I felt plenty of strength in it’s little body. Later today, I will go listen to my youngest play his beautiful cello at a small concert.

It is a good day, this Solstice. I hope this issue adds some goodness to your day as well. I hope you come away with a deeper appreciation of Thoreau, for Farmer-ish, and for the goodness of nature, farming, and simplicity.

In This Issue

“Compost: A Tryptich” by Judith Laxer

“Something of the Sea” (poetry) by James Sands

“Magic Pie” by Amy Bowers

“In Defense of Okra” by Nicholas Wilson