Tools of the Earth

Tools of the Earth - Gardening Book

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Tools of the Earth
The Practice and Pleasure of Gardening.

by Jeff Taylor

ISBN 0811819094
176 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.00 x 9.75 x 7.00, Hardcover.

Taylor's latest collection of hilarious and often poignant essays is as bracing as a cool drink on a hot day. Using the same format he plied in Tools of the Trade (1996), Taylor zeroes in on a couple of dozen specific garden implements -- from the humble bucket and wheelbarrow to the tiller, cloche and grindstone -- using them as springboards for informative, entertaining musings that deftly manage to avoid being folksy.

Each chapter is introduced by one of Iwasaki's graceful photographs and ends with a pithy quote from such diverse sources as Thoreau, Luther Burbank, Freud and Goethe. The latter's observation, "There is no sight more terrible than ignorance in action," concludes a chapter entitled "Loppers," which segues neatly from pruning to clear-cutting. Taylor recounts the virtues and shortcomings of his chosen subjects with the expert air of one well acquainted with hard work; at the same time, he offers articulate deliberations on such wide-ranging topics as sleep ("Hammock") and parenting a teen ("Pitchfork").

Taylor can be funny, as when recounting a barefoot encounter with a stray trowel that left him "spitting out synonyms for fertilizer," and lyrical, as in the essay, "Gloves": "Hands can pick up a coconut or a snowflake, count tiny seeds or lift watermelons, stroke a lover or field-strip an automatic weapon." Calling himself "an average Joe Hoe," Taylor is any gardener's dream neighbor?especially if he lends out his hand tools.

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