Fine.  I’ll admit it.  This is a book that my husband bought for himself, having become a fan of Sharon Astyk’s online writings.  We were traveling, and I had finished MY book (Jill Connor Browne’s The Sweet Potato Queens’ 1st Big-Ass Novel; really a fine piece of comedy and I highly recommend it), and I was hyperventilating since I’m one of those nerds who NEEDS reading material close to hand at all times, whether I’m actually reading it or not.

“Here” said my husband; “I think this will be interesting.”

Keep in mind that what my husband reads and comprehends and what I read and comprehend are generally not even in the same bookstore, much less on the same shelf.

The first chapter of this book had me hiding under my chair in tears and with a tummy ache.  Really.

Luckily, I’m also one of those people who must finish a started book, no matter how dismal, how incomprehensible, or how stupid it is.  Normally this has me setting the book ablaze after the last word, and cursing whoever gave me it/told me to read it.

I say luckily, because after the initial assault on my sanity and meager hold on a sense of security for my family, this one is a keeper.

Sharon talks about where our lives are headed, in our current economy.  And though we, and most of our friends, are striving for rural living, Sharon talks us through the Way Things Could Be from an urban/suburban perspective.

No matter–issues like health care, family relationships, community, small-scale gardening and food production, energy conservation (or elimination for the need of excess energy usage), are going to be pressing concerns for us all.

And to make up for the first frightening pages, Sharon is positive enough to not only end on a good note (that a changed world will not necessarily be a bad world), but she gives us 23 pages of Appendices: “Things you can do to get ready for peak oil, climate change and difficult times”, and “The best books about nearly everything”.

Because I don’t want to just HEAR about my world changing, I want to DO something, to know I’m providing for my family the best I can.

But the best thing about this book is that it’s not written by some professor, or some economist, or some career environmentalist (although they all have their place, and have valuable knowledge to share).

Sharon Astyk is a mom.  She’s a wife.  And she’s admittedly human.  When asked how she Does It All–wife, mother, writer, small farmer–she gives an answer that’s so familiar to me personally, “If I look at what I didn’t do, at the mess, the chaos, the exhaustion, the failures, it doesn’t look so hot.  So I try not to look, and hope to do better tomorrow.  So if I have one bit of advice for parents of young children–and everyone who is facing hard times, a big learning curve and not enough time–it is this: do the best you can, trust yourself, and be pleased with what you do.  Embrace the chaos.”

This is a woman I could easily call ”friend”.


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