Marilyn Halvorson lives on a cattle ranch near Sundre, Alberta. She is a teacher, and the author of several well-known YA novels set in ranch country such as Cowboys Don't Cry, and Nobody Said It Would Be Easy. This is a year long journal beginning in September 1989 in which the author documents her life on the land, her work as a cattle farmer, and (the focus of every farmer's life) the changing weather.
I really enjoyed the passages in which she shares her observations on the natural world. There were moments of profound insight that had me appreciating her perspective:
Though nature can be cruel, she will not take without giving in return. Hope walks hand in hand with despair. I met it on the creek bank as well. There stood a grove of young balsam poplars, shedding their coloured leaves and preparing for the death season ahead. But as I looked more closely at the trees, I made a discovery. Beside each dying, falling leaf was a leaf bud, sticky and tightly curled but as complete and perfect a leaf as it will be next May. Surely this is hope - and faith. A tree not yet stripped of this year's leaves, with eight months of fall and winter ahead of it, yet ready and waiting for that first warm week in May.
While I am out poking around in the field I hear a sound far above. I look up. A long, ragged line of geese is plowing purposefully southeast across the heavy sky. I count, surprised at how hard it is to keep up with the moving line. There are ninety-five of them. They disappear into the distance, still calling back ever-fainter farewells to the north.
But along with the inspiration and occasional wonderful descriptions of the nature world, there also seemed to be a cynical undertone that I found quite depressing.
The butterflies are out today in the hot Indian summer sun, orange and brown velvet ones. Happy. Unaware that, surely, in a few days they will be dead. What does that matter? That will be then. Today the sun is shining. The world is wonderful.
Marilyn Halvorson comes across as a slightly cranky farmer, and a bit curmudgeonly living a life divided between the farm and her teaching (she rarely mentions that she is a writer). Often the daily entries seemed like a few rushed words jotted down at the end of a busy day when summary of the weather and few incidents from the day come to mind. There was not a lot of narrative flow, and not often did I find it was insightful or inspiring or even very elucidating. Overall, I was disappointed by this journal, although there were some moments when she captured the reality of life on the land with clarity and precision.