Read Karen’s essays about country life.
If you’ve ever dreamed about living in the country, surrounded by cats, dogs, donkeys, chickens, horses, and other assorted furry and feathered friends, you might find some inspiration in Karen Weir-Jimerson’s new book of essays, Slow Lane. A follow-up to her first book, So Much Sky, this new volume of essays documents Weir-Jimerson’s rural adventures as she, her husband, and two sons continue to transform their 3-acre Iowa farmstead into a haven for plants, animals, and a rural family of four. Many of these essays were originally published in Country Gardens magazine, so the book includes a generous helping of prose about gardening and the natural world. It also includes a cast of animal characters indoors and out. Although Weir-Jimerson did not grow up in the country, it’s clear she adapted quickly, relying on her wit and wisdom to discover humor in trying situations, such as attempting to retrieve the family’s precocious Jack Russell terrier Snap from the morning school bus. And, how she looked to her Border collie Tweed for advice when a confused wild turkey tangled itself into the antenna of her vintage Airstream trailer in the middle of the night. Weir-Jimerson’s animals play starring roles, too. Some favorites include: Chursky, a 4-horned ram with anger issues; Nell, a sweet Border Collie who traveled home with the family after a vacation in Scotland; Boots, the extra-toed cat who was more ghost than pet in the Jimerson farmhouse; and Riley, Cisco, and Peso, three curious miniature donkeys with big attitudes.
In her delicious collection of essays, So Much Sky, author Karen Weir-Jimerson offers up bite-sized gems that view modern life through a rural lens. Many of these pieces were originally published in the author’s popular “Slow Lane” column for Country Home magazine, and seeing them here collected one is convinced that the column was aptly named. Time does indeed seem to slow as Weir-Jimerson lures us into a charming world of chirping crickets, rogue tornados, and country characters both animal and human. The essays are arranged by season. In spring we meet Rose, a Border collie puppy who gives the lie to the difficulty of herding cats. In summer, a neighbor’s bull invades the garden sparking a new take on poet Frost’s advice about the importance of fences. In autumn, crime takes center stage and a sister is corrupted, as the author leads a dawn raid on a local cemetery’s overabundant hydrangea blossoms. In winter we can smell the cookies baking as winter’s “roulette wheel” spins out an Iowa snow day of car-sized drifts and old movies by the fire. Garden writer and essayist Weir-Jimerson is not farm-raised. She’s a working mother of suburban background with rural inclinations who, along with her husband Doug and two young sons (now grown), turns a rough Iowa farmstead into a little slice of heaven. She is also a gifted and natural storyteller. From spring through winter we share the family’s adventures with lambing, lack of closets, sheep shearing, morel hunting, finding skeletons in boxes at rural auctions, the political correctness of home-grown peas, irresistible petty crime, green Jello as a food group, bird and butterfly migration, a cacophony of clocks, and unsuccessful horseback rides that land you flat on the ground, so close to the earth you actually hear the hooves clattering away, and more. Weir-Jimerson brings to each of these short delicacies an acute eye for detail, an ample helping of humor, a joyful command of language and a humanity, passion and wit sharpened by a life lived far from the madding crowd.
Read Karen’s gardening books.