The Essential Earthman by Henry Mitchell
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I just finished writing my blog entry for the book club. I mostly wrote about how easy it is to quote him--and then did just that. I often find myself wishing I could write like him, which, I keep telling myself, is sort of like wishing you could be someone else. I am just not that much of a wit, or a crank. (Henry is mostly faking the cranky part, though his sense of irony is never far away.) And for some reason, the opening line of Pride and Prejudice keeps coming to mind: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife..."
I heartily agree with you. His quotes give his writing such personality and liveliness.
You mention on your blog that you're disappointed in the small number of posts about the book. This is a book that is hard to sum up in a post. I'm not through reading it yet, since I plan to do a lot more pages per day during my Thanksgiving vacation from work, but I wish I had started some threads as I went along discussing each chapter. They are all so rich and textured, I could see a lot of discussion about each. And maybe post here as a central location.
I just ordered the book, so I'll probably be too late to add to the discussion.
We can keep discussing Henry Mitchell's book as long as we want and as along as there is interest. I like the idea of starting various threads here based on different themes or chapters in his book. I am going to read his other books soon.
So, who wants to start that 1st thread?
I'll have a go. Henry Mitchell on Irises - I take an iris "bulb" and plant it and let nature take it's course. I had never heard of someone mulching them with horse manure (fresh horse manure, at that!), shallowly cultivating, preparing a humus rich bed before planting as he does. But the phantasmagorical blooms he gets! It actually makes me want to try all that. I'm against fertilizing with chemical fertilizers, though, so I'm not going to go that far.
This is a weather intensive chapter, too, and I love this line - "They will be, as a rule, in total perfection by May 22, or whenever the year's major hail and thunderstorm is scheduled." So very true.
Japanese Irises from seed - I want some. I have seed for wild irises. I haven't seen, or never paid attention if I did, Japanese Iris seeds. I salvaged a cement laundry tub, filled it with compost and peat moss and planted petunias in it last spring. This spring, it will be Japanese irises.
His Wild Iris subchapter captures all my feelings about gardening - things run away from me, everything comes up differently than I expected. I'm very reassured that so able a gardener feels these very same things.
There will be more irises at my house because of Henry Mitchell.
Windy: It's true, Mitchell certainly has a thing for irises. I can't imagine giving any of my perennials that much coddling (now the vegetables, that's another story . . . ).
I'm still getting my thoughts together for my blog post on Mitchell, which I plan to do tomorrow or Thursday at the latest. Reviewing portions of the book last night, though, it's going to be hard to post without quoting an entire chapter at a time. Mitchell is so humorous, and almost every sentence is a gem.
BTW - Kathy - how did you put a link to your blog post here? I don't know html, so I'm not sure how to do it.
My blog post on The Essential Earthman is available at http://timberglade.typepad.com/outside/2006/11/henry_mitchell_.html.
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