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.