Friday, June 11, 2010

Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs

I have happy memories of reading Heather Lende's memoir If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name that was published in 2005. Lende lets us see what life in small town Alaska is like- something that sounds much like life in my small rural farming community, yet decidedly more exciting at the same time. After reading this book I could imagine myself living in Haines, Alaska, writing for the local paper and raising my family all amid the beauty of the Alaskan outdoors. What I didn't realize was that while I was busy reading Lende's book, she was busy recovering from a terrible accident. While biking in April of 2005 Lende fell off her bike and was then run over by a truck. The result of this accident was a broken pelvis, and Lende was lucky to be alive, enduring months of hospitalization and rehabilitation in Seattle. (A downside to living in a remote Alaskan town is lack of medical care for extreme illness or injury). Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs picks up right where Lende's first book ends. We are treated to more anecdotes of the residents that Lende knows personally. And Lende is able to share her feelings on faith as she is confronted with the personal challenge of recovering from her accident and grieving the death of her own mother. Once again I am able to feel as though I know the people of Haines, Alaska, and Lende and her family. And as I ponder from time to time the type of writing that I would like to do, Lende's memoir sticks firmly in my mind as an example of how one writer can make ordinary life interesting and entertaining.

My husband also read If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name shortly after I did, also dreaming of an idyllic life in remote Alaska (apparently skipping the part about not having television reception). Seeing my copy of Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs resting on our coffee table, he instantly recognized Lende's name, and inquired about how far along I was in it. Lende's writing appeals to a wide audience - men and women, old and young. I am hopeful that she will continue to share more about her life in Alaska in the future.

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