Pasatiempo - - In Other Words - — Rob DeWalt

Coun­try lives

Ru­ral Amer­ica har­bors its own unique lan­guage and wis­dom. For in­stance, in many homes lin­ing the work­ing fields and graz­ing pas­tures of North­ern New Mex­ico, fore­casts for snow aren’t gleaned from tele­vi­sions or news­pa­pers but from the thick­ness and po­si­tion of lowhang­ing piñon smoke blan­ket­ing the val­ley and from the gath­er­ing habits and mi­gra­tion pat­terns of black-billed mag­pies. No sense in say­ing, “It’s go­ing to snow,” ei­ther. “Time to cover the coop and the fire­wood” will do just fine. There’s an econ­omy of pur­pose in say­ing it that way. It’s sim­ply what coun­try folk do more of­ten than not.

St. John’s Col­lege tu­tor emer­i­tus Robert Al­lan Richardson was raised in Iowa’s fer­tile corn and hog coun­try and worked as a field man and car­pen­ter in Wis­con­sin and Illi­nois. He is well versed in this lan­guage and wis­dom, and in his new book, Prompt­ings of Ne­ces­sity:

Three Sto­ries (Sun­stone Press), he uses them to mem­o­rable ef­fect. His tales, set in the mid-and late-20th cen­tury, com­bine the joys and hard­ships of farm life, the pol­i­tics of the day, and the ad­vance­ment of agri­cul­tural technology. Richardson cap­tures the Iowa land­scape with strong sen­sual de­scrip­tion while ex­plor­ing par­ent-child bonds from mul­ti­ple emo­tional an­gles. Through his char­ac­ters, the author lays bare var­i­ous strug­gles, con­flicts, de­sires, and rec­on­cil­i­a­tions that oc­cur within all fam­i­lies and ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships, us­ing the beauty of the nat­u­ral world as his stage. Richardson reads from and dis­cusses Prompt­ings at 7 p.m. Tues­day, Jan. 25, in the Ju­nior Com­mon Room of the Peter­son Stu­dent Cen­ter at St. John’s Col­lege, 1160 Camino de Cruz Blanca, 984-6000.

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