The dogs hear it in the distance before I do, and so do the horses, a dry dislocated thump, thunder from far away. One moment there's no wind, the air still and damp. The next moment the wind is turning corners where there aren't any, lifting and coiling the barnyard dust. Wind flails the leaves on the sugar maples, revealing their silver undersides. It scatters spent hickory flowers in drifts. The sky blackens, and I can almost hear rain begin. But then the wind drops and the front unravels over the western ridge, where the weather comes from. Blue sky intervenes. A clear night threatens once again, Venus hanging peaceful in the dusk.
From The Rural Life
A year-long meditation on the deep joys of country life.
In the pages of The New Yorker, Harper's, the New York Times, and his acclaimed books Making Hay and The Last Fine Time, Verlyn Klinkenborg has mastered a voice of singular lyricism and precision. His subject is the American landscape: not the landscape admired from a scenic overlook, but one taken in from a rusty chair propped against the worn siding of a screened-in porch, or from the window of a pickup driving down an empty highway into the teeth of an approaching storm. He has a keen appreciation of the peculiarly American tableaua Memorial Day parade, or a boy riding a bike down the middle of a dusty street. Whether reporting from a small farm in upstate New York, a high pasture deep within the Rocky Mountains, or the bricked edge of a city shuddering in the wake of a "sudden Tuesday," Klinkenborg follows the momentum of the seasons in a language as simple, unsentimental, and exacting as life itself.
In the tradition of E. B. White and Henry David Thoreau, Verlyn Klinkenborg gives us in The Rural Life a fresh view of our greatest subject, the ordinary beauty of our daily lives.