From GENE LOGSDON
I just must take time out from my regular postings to thank all of you for your extraordinary kindness, intelligence and good humor in responding to what I write. What you say makes better reading than what I say and I am so very grateful. When, for example, Tim, whom I have never met, recently mentioned specific stories that I wrote many, many moons ago, I was just flabbergasted— and touched. And then Beth Greenwood, after many very down to earth and practical observations about farming, starts quoting classic Latin sayings! And I would almost bet that the wonderful poem Russ quotes and says is anonymous is something he wrote. I do know him and he is quite capable of writing good poetry.
It never seemed to me that anyone was paying much attention to my scribblings over the years. I did get some really precious letters occasionally, mostly handwritten on lined paper— even Wendell Berry writes to me that way— but that very fact suggests that my readers are not part of anybody’s majority. I have chosen to write mostly about how important farming is to everyone, both as science and art. That means I have the attention of only a small portion of the public. I would have had a much better chance of success if I had decided to write about sex culture or sports culture, not agriculture. Now, however, you responders have me wondering if perhaps the new interest in food and how to produce it without collapsing another civilization, might be on its way to become almost as popular as Lady Gaga and Lebron James.
What has happened to me as a writer just seems miraculous in a number of ways. First of all it could only have occurred because of the Internet. I choose a rather solitary life, and in doing so have lost a lot of money by not traveling and giving speeches. Electronics has enabled me to have the best of both worlds. In my solitude out here in the Ohio cornfields, I get to talk to wonderful people from all over the whole world. It is just so totally awesome.
Also it might not have happened without Dave Smith out in California who persuaded me to start writing this blogsite. He said he would handle all the computery stuff that I hate to do. And so it goes now, for more than seven years. Dave is a marvel. I have to tell you how we got together— it is so much like the craziness of my whole writing career. Years ago, he was one of the founders of the very successful Smith & Hawken catalog and stores. I did not know him or anyone connected with his business, but nevertheless decided in my usual reckless, feckless way, to criticize the catalog because in my opinion it was selling high-priced, garden window dressing for rich yuppified pretend gardeners, when it should be offering more affordable tools for the dirt grubbing, back-to-the-landers who were leading the revolution into garden farming. To my utter surprise, I got a letter from Dave out of the blue, saying that he agreed completely. He came to see me. We became friends. He went on to other businesses and projects on his own. Smith & Hawken closed doors— in 2009 I believe. One day Dave just hauled off and wrote me a check for $10,000 when I was struggling with my book, The Contrary Farmer. Then he helped me get a publisher. Can you imagine that? Here was someone who actually believed in me. More than I did. I got him to take back half of that money when the book started making a profit but he never would take the other half. And then, years later, here he comes again and talks me into doing this blogsite and now I can trade thoughts with some of the finest people in the world— and have found out that there really were people reading my stuff even long ago.
I never know when I should respond to individual comments. It seems to me that I should mostly stay out of sight unless someone asks me a direct question that I can answer. But I want all of you to understand how much your comments mean as I wind down a long life spilling out words on paper and computer screen. I thought I would live my last years in obscurity but the opposite seems to be happening as the world I championed all these years is actually coming on full steam. Life is a series of heart-breaking losses but if we join hands and stand tall, we can fill the times in between with heart-lifting gains. I stand before you, bow my head, and give thanks.