Monday, December 27, 2010

Book: Growing, Older by Joan Dye Gussow

Joan lives on the Hudson River in Piermont, New York. She is Professor Emerita of Nutrition and Education at Columbia University's Teacher's College. (Have you even seen the word 'Emerita' before?)

She has written and continues to write, now in her "ninth decade" about local farming, over-consumption, materialism, global crises and global footprints, growing one's own food, her battles with the tides, the rain and the several floodings of her gardens. She writes of woodchucks, skunks, rabbits, muskrats and bees. She is refreshingly candid about growing older and how she continues living after the death of her husband.

She reminded me of my sister Maria, in many, honest, principled about her global footprint but also generous and one who delights in the intricacies of the natural world.

Interestingly, she reveals that her mother was born in Orange City, Iowa, and was Dutch Reformed!. This revelation comes soon in the chapter titled, "If My Parents Had Danced in the Supermarket." (Of course, they hadn't, being Dutch Reformed.) She tells of making a visit back to Orange City with her parents when she was a little girl. It was hot and a Sunday. Her Mother, who had moved to California, dressed her daughters in shorts but "Aunt Cora sniffed in shock, 'Joyce, it's Sunday! We were taken back upstairs to be properly dressed. For us it was a novelty; for my mother it was her upbringing." This will be familiar to my cousins and older sisters. In my early years we were not allowed to change from Sunday church dresses to shorts, even while at Big Star Lake on our summer vacations.

Joan also writes of butterflies, of books that have influenced her, of zucchini (the only chapter with recipes) and of trying to plant rice, as her garden is underwater so often.

So, if you like Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollan, Dan Barber or Alice Waters, all of whom praise Joan for her writings, then you will almost certainly like this book.

PS. I do have to admit that I don't yet understand the comma in the title.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all your lovely words. I'm happy to explain the comma. The book is about growing and about being older. So it's meant to say, I'm still growing, and I'm older. Does that help? Joan Gussow, Growing, Older.