Monday, August 15, 2011
Foolishness, They Called It by Rhonda Rhodes
Publisher: Heart Wings Publishing
Foolishness, They Called It appears to be the only book written, so far, by Rhonda Rhodes. Since much of it seems to be drawn from life experiences, maybe it's the only one she was interested in writing, but it's a humorous story and a follow up might have been nice.
Kara and Red have agreed to take a leave of absence from their jobs in Denver to go and spend an extended period on an organic farm that two of their friends, Jim and Joan, are trying to get started in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Ashville, North Carolina. They've talked their friend Sydney into joining them in this escapade that none of them seems to be particularly well suited for. They're leaving behind jobs as a nurse, dental hygienist and a worker on the line in an electronics factory. They find themselves living on a farm that has no running water in the house, meaning that water has to be hauled and the bathroom facilities still consist of an outhouse – two seater. The book is set in the years right after the Vietnam War when organic farming was a new concept, so there will be a lot of trial and error on the farm, while most of the natives think these "city-slickers" have lost their minds. They try to tell Jim that the insects will eat up his broccoli and can only shake their heads when it happens.
The book features a host of colorful and mostly humorous characters. There's B.J., a young goat farmer who thinks she might be a lesbian, but she's not sure. If she's not though, why does she feel such an attraction to Sydney? Aunt Mabel shows the wisdom of the mountain women and reveals a story of passion that few suspected. There is the mountain man wood carver who takes a fancy to Red and tries to court her with the offer of a pretty good horse, which Kara isn't totally sure they shouldn't consider. Not everyone walks on the light side. There's the married woman who wants a fling for a thrill and the local farmer and his son who turn dangerous when Sidney's car has a breakdown.
On the whole however, the book is light hearted and when the humans fail, the animals take over. Pork Chop the pig has a habit of getting loose and wandering off to visit neighbor's gardens; the dogs down the road attack every car that comes by ferociously; and there is a host of chickens with lessons to teach the women. And then there's that problem of how to have an intimate moment in a house with thin walls and five people crowded together.
Rhodes presents an interesting contrast between what people are used to in the cities versus what is available on the land. While the mountain people there may be rough, they also possess a wisdom and understanding based on watching nature and learning to know who their neighbors really are. The women and their friends find that there is as much to learn about life and relationships as there is to learn about farming. The writing is very realistic and warm. The reader develops a good feeling for what the atmosphere is on the mountain and the pace of the lifestyle. A nice read.