The book I’m making my way through right now is titled Gene Everlasting. It’s by a man who just passed away named Gene Logsdon. He was a farmer and an author known for the kind of old time wisdom and temperament you might expect from a classic American agrarian. Fans of Wendell Berry or Luther Burbank reading this are likely already familiar with him.
I find Amazon makes incredible recommendations for me, in most cases much better than my friends. I’ve been on a bit of a botany and agriculture kick with my reading lately which is probably why their algorithm selected this book. After one-clicking it, I went on the internet to find out more about the author. This lead me to his wonderful blog, The Contrary Farmer.
To my surprise he had died just the day before. He had been fighting cancer for a while and passed at the age of 84. Gene Everlasting was his last book. He wrote it knowing he was sick. It’s a humble and humorous meditation on death, dying, and how a connection to the natural world influences a personal view of passing on.
The authors I’ve enjoyed the most over the past few years have been farmers and soldiers who write non-fiction. There’s something plainspoken and profound about men and women who see war and the natural world up close. Their language is lean. Their subjects are timeless. There is and has always been war and the need to find or make food. Everything else is superfluous. To write about these subjects requires clarity.
Living close to arable land and battlefields must do something to a person’s constitution because I’ve found much to admire in farmers and soldiers. I don’t think I’ll be either in this life, and that is something of a personal failing.