I've heard it said that the average person purchases 17 books in a year. I don't keep track, but I'm easily above average in that respect. And I can tell you that one of the best ways to buy books is at thrift stores. They're a whole lot cheaper than Amazon.
My wife and I are frequent thrift store shoppers. I go directly to the books, while she checks out everything in the store. I almost never leave a thrift store without buying at least one book to read. And, more often than not, I'll head out to my car to start reading my book while Marlene continues to shop.
One of my most pleasant thrift store book finds last year was Rural Hours by Susan Fenimore Cooper. Susan's father, James is the well known author of numerous historical novels, Last of the Mohicans being but one. Until I found Rural Hours, I never knew of Susan Fenimore Cooper.
Rural Hours is a year-long journal that discusses the natural history and agrarian culture of Cooperstown, New York, circa 1850 (Susan's grandfather founded the town in the late 1700s). The book focuses a lot on botany and birds which, as a New Yorker, I found of interest, but it was her descriptions of rural life in and around the village that I most enjoyed. The following excerpt is one example...
Saturday, June 30th.— Charming weather. Came home from our walk with the village cows, this evening. Some fifteen or twenty of them were straggling along the road, going home of their own accord to be milked. Many of these good creatures have no regular pasture the summer through, but are left to forage for themselves along the roadsides, and in the unfenced woods. They go out in the morning, without any one to look after them, and soon find the best feeding ground, generally following this particular road, which has a long reach of open woods on either side. We seldom meet them in any number on the other roads. They like to pasture in the forest, where they doubtless injure the young trees, being especially fond of the tender maple shoots. Sometimes we see them feeding on the grass by the wayside, as soon as they have crossed the village bridge; other days they all walk off in a body, for a mile or more, before they begin to graze. Towards evening, they turn their heads homeward, without being sent for, occasionally walking at a steady pace without stopping; at other times, loitering and nibbling by the way. Among those we followed, this evening, were several old acquaintances, and probably they all belonged to different houses; only two of them had bells. As they came into the village, they all walked off to their owners' doors, some turning in one direction, some in another.
If I could go back to a place in time, I think that Cooperstown New York, circa 1850, would be where I'd like to go. It was a pastoral, peaceful, freshly-tamed wilderness, full of natural beauty. That is the impression I get from Rural Hours. I plan to share a few more excerpts from this book in future blog posts.