Saturday, August 7, 2010
Drawn to the Land by Elizabeth and Barton Cockey -- Book Review
In case you've somehow missed it all these years, I'm a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also love anything to do with the pioneering era. How people packed up all their belongings into their covered wagons and settled the west on a promise and prayer is amazing to me. I doubt I could have such strength.
Laura's father, Charles, was a farmer. In her now famous children's series, Wilder depicts just how difficult life on the prairie could be for those whose living was drawn from the land. Poor soil, droughts, grasshoppers, tornadoes, these and many other obstacles stood in the way of creating a self-sufficient farm.
It seems fitting to me, somehow, that a farmer's daughter grew up to become a farmer's wife. Laura's husband, Almanzo, spent his childhood in Burke, NY. The Wilders met many challenges on their way to making their final home, Rocky Ridge Farm, prosperous.
When I was asked to review Drawn to the Land: The Romance of Farming by Elizabeth J. Cockey and Barton M. Cockey, I didn't have to think twice. Besides the fact that I am a lover of American history, I live in a town with a few working farms, and since this book is a picture tour of upstate New York, my Almanzo Wilder bells started ringing. In some way, I felt I would learn more about him just by reading it.
Drawn to the Land is a true celebration of farming in upstate New York. I fell in love just by reading the Introduction. This book brings you through each season, starting in winter when the sap is down and felling trees helps keep a home warm. I could almost feel how cold it gets through the beautiful oil paintings of Chambers Valley and the Jablonski family's Argyle homestead. Spring brings out the apple blossoms and I noticed the hostas on pallets in front of the Gardenworks farm just north of Salem, NY that Elizabeth Cockey's painting captured so well. From the vineyards in the summer to the pumpkins in the fall, each page, the artwork, and the loving descriptions of farming life provided by Barton Cockey, blend together to create a beautiful story of America's love of farming.
I can't say enough good things about this book. I learned about beekeeping and winemaking, raising chickens and the building of silos, and so much more that it is understandable why there is such a push to return to the days of old and provide our families with organic foods untainted by chemicals.
While this book would make a beautiful gift, Drawn to the Land is also a book you'll want to own. Whether your interest resides in art appreciation, farming, or American history, you'll find what you're looking for within the pages of this book.
Title: Drawn to the Land
Authors: Elizabeth J. Cockey and Barton M. Cockey
Publisher: Bridgeway Books