Rural Life


Verlyn Klinkenborg's collection of mini-essays, The Rural Life, is like a bucket of rocks, among which are a few diamonds and rubies and sapphires. But the rocks that aren't gems are also precious. Klinkenborg has an eagle's eye for detail and a micrometer's accuracy in description. For example, when he touches upon one of my favorite personal obsessions, the visible cosmos, he brings it into sharp focus. He's lying "... in a Wyoming hay field looking up at the sky on a warm September night ..." and observes:

In the cottonwood draw where Little Goose Creek flows, deer cough from time to time and a great horned owl screeches punctually. A cricket in the hay stubble emits a pure, intermittent, staccato whine that could as well be the sound of some pulsar deep in the recesses of the universe. The horses that live in this field keep their distance, but I can feel their presence, a weight and a wariness nearly as palpable as the breeze that stirs the grasses. It's almost time for Saturn to rise, a bright spot (scarcely eight hundred million miles away) climbing into the sky just below M31, whose light tonight is as ancient as the oldest stone tools ever found on Earth. On a night this clear, near and far, past and future, seem almost to merge, bisected only by the observer."

^z - 2009-08-26