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Date:10/20/2014 7:20:19 PM
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Sources, Part II
Last time I was talking about source materials for reading and writing. I had mentioned Grahame, Herriot, and Adams. All three belong in the top echelon of English writers. Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows" needs no endorsement from me. It is his only noteworthy work, yet for any Countryman or Countrywoman who still possess a childlike soul, it is the touchstone for farmland literature. "The Wind in the Willows" endorses the simple lives and efforts of small farmers and gardeners. The image of two companions who are safe and secure against the harshness of Winter is one that speaks to the hearts of Countrymen (and women).

James Herriot incorporates the human element of rural life. My favorite story of his is of the old farmer who had defied the odds in class-conscious England of the early 20th Century. This farmer had worked himself and his team of horses beyond the endurance of mortal man and beast and had made himself the owner of a manor normally occupied by a duke or earl. This old, grizzled farmer, in spite of his success, enjoyed few comforts and lived as he always had lived, without luxury or leisure. The only indulgence he allowed himself was the care and comfort that he provided for his team. Young Herriot was called out to the old man's property and noticed how shabbily he dressed and how gruff he was with his hired hands. Herriot followed the old farmer out to a grassy paddock and saw two ancient draft horses who acted like foals again when they saw their owner. While treating the horses teeth for age-related problems he observed that the horses stood in the hock-deep grass of the pasture, with a cold stream nearby and a shelter built especially for them to keep out of the wind. The old farmer allowed, "They were slaves when I was a slave." Later, as Herriot was about to leave the manor, a cheerful hired man informed him how the old farmer always made time during his day to bring out a few flakes of hay or a measure of feed for his retired team of horses. It was the only luxury he allowed himself, to visit his old team and provide for their comfort, even though any other farmer would have sold off the team years ago. More on sources next time. --Gary
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