David Kline has been called a “twentieth-century Henry David Thoreau” by his friends and contemporaries, an apt comparison given the quiet exuberance with which he records the quotidian goings-on on his organic family farm. Under David’s attentive gaze and in his clear, insightful prose the reader is enveloped in the rhythms of farm life; not only the planting and harvesting of crops throughout the year, but the migration patterns of birds, the health and virility of honeybees left nearly to their own devices, the songs and silences of frogs and toads, the disappearance and resurgence of praying mantises in fields-turned-woodlands, the search for monarch butterflies in the milkweed. There’s rhythm in community, too—neighbors gathering to plant potatoes or maintain an elderly friend’s tomato garden, organic farming conferences, and meetings around family dining tables or university panels.
Interspersed with local lore (when the spring’s first bumblebee appears the children can go barefoot) is deep technical knowledge of cultivation and land management and the hazards of modern agri-business. Kline records statewide meetings of district supervisors, knows which speakers and committee chairmen are in the pockets of the oil and gas lobbyists, stands up and says his part.
At a time when America’s population is being turned toward the benefits of small, local farming practices on our health and our environment, Kline’s daybook offers a striking example of the ways in which we are connected to our environment, and the pleasure we can take in daily work and stewardship.