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Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring

Overview

The nation's favorite literary farmer pays homage to the life of the senses.
Rushing from one thing to another, we lose sight of the art of living, which for California farmer David Mas Masumoto is also the art of farming. Not fast farming, of the kind that produces fast food, but slow farming, the kind that notices each change of light and temperature and produces peaches with juice that runs down your chin.
On the farm, appreciating the ...

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Overview

The nation's favorite literary farmer pays homage to the life of the senses.
Rushing from one thing to another, we lose sight of the art of living, which for California farmer David Mas Masumoto is also the art of farming. Not fast farming, of the kind that produces fast food, but slow farming, the kind that notices each change of light and temperature and produces peaches with juice that runs down your chin.
On the farm, appreciating the fruits of one's own labor requires all the senses: smell that knows when a peach is ready to be picked; sight that observes the health of a season's crop; touch that measures the weight of a fruit; hearing that recognizes each voice that calls out across the fields; and taste that savors the refreshing tang of a fruit at that perfect moment of ripeness. Taking us into his fields to witness the cycle of the harvest, Masumoto reminds us that we must stop living on the run in order to savor the world around us.

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Editorial Reviews

Christina Eng - Oakland Tribune
“Masumoto has written compellingly about life on his family farm in the Central Valley and his struggles to stay in business.”
Elaine Iwano - International Examiner
“Interweaved into the exquisite and sometimes heartbreaking descriptions of nurturing fruit to harvest are sketches of Masumoto's [family].”
Linda Kincaid - California Rare Fruit Growers Inc. Magazine
“Masumoto paints pictures with the simple words of a farmer.”
Sarah Gianelli - Portland Oregonian
“Masumoto lyrically describes life on his organic farm through each of his five senses.”
David Takami - Seattle Times
“Masumoto writes about his prized crops with missionary zeal and a poetic sensibility.”
Booklist
“Writing lovingly, lyrically...Masumoto passionately engages every fiber of his being [in] bringing the land to life for his readers....Through his eyes we see the translucence of peach blossoms about to burst. Through his ears, we hear a symphony as his shovel uproots encroaching weeds. His hands pluck a ripe peach and we brush away the dew, breathe in its musky aroma. He takes a bite and we drink in its nectar as we would fine wine.”
The Bloomsbury Review
“An agreeable reader for anyone who enjoys food and quality of life.”
Washington Post Book World
“Vivid and compelling...Masumoto might well have called this book Simple Pleasures.”
Bart Ripp - News Tribune [Tacoma
“Mas's new book is about slowing down and savoring your senses.”
The Washington Post
As its title implies, Four Seasons in Five Senses takes us through the farm-year seasons in the hoary convention of "nature books," and celebrates the senses. Indeed, the experience of growing, harvesting, selling and tasting fruit becomes the central metaphor for a kind of philosophy of sense-celebration, which, like much of Walt Whitman's poetry, becomes a catalogue of affirmation. "Simple Pleasures," Masamuto might well have called this book.

Despite the anxieties of farming, this is the self-portrait of a contented man, at ease with himself, his home, his work. One wonders where -- as a writer -- Masamuto will go from here. Perhaps to the next generation of Masamutos -- his children. Will they, too, follow the farming life? Therein lies the tale of the future of family farms. — Wanda Urbanska

Publishers Weekly
In this collection of essays, the author, a writer, lecturer and organic peach and raisin farmer, explores farm life through the five senses, rhapsodizing on-among other things-the color of weeds, the smell of mud, the sound of a shovel sinking into soil, the feel of old work boots and, above all, the "explosion of flavor" from his Sun Crest peaches. Masumoto (Harvest Son) celebrates the homey routines of small-scale, low-tech farming passed down from his Japanese-American clan, and inveighs against industrialized "fast farming" and its flavorless products. In but not of the commercial nexus, his own peaches are "a dialogue between producer and consumer," and they create new memories, "emotions" and "true stories and personal connections." It all adds up to a Thoreauvian manifesto in which the organic farm is the last refuge from a modernity that deadens the senses and deprives us of authentic experience. When Masumoto has something to write about, like his family's wartime internment or the economics of produce distribution, he writes well. Too often, however, his sensual epiphanies degenerate into food porn ("my teeth sink into the [peach's] succulent flesh, and juice breaks into my mouth as I seal my lips on the skin and suck the meat") or impressionistic sentence fragments ("Chickens. Barns with barn owls. Porches. Straw hats."). A readership of connoisseurs, slow-food enthusiasts, and unhappily deracinated urbanites will warm to Masumoto's ode to the exalted spirituality of organic farming, but some may find it nostalgic and overly sweet. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
More joy of farming. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
California farmer/memoirist Masumoto (Harvest Son, 1998, etc.) meanders through his fields and memories by way of the five senses. As agriculture increasingly focuses on big business and the bottom line, Masumoto has become an eloquent voice for that increasingly rare breed, the family farmer. Working the land his parents worked before him, his life revolves around the production of Sun Crest peaches and writing evocative books about the process. Here, the author leads a tactile tour of the farm over time. Vivid passages introduce each of the book's five sections, as Masumoto recalls the smell of wet concrete, the taste of a stringy peach, and all the silences of the country he grew up in. As a member of a Japanese farming community, his experiences are both familiar and new: he recalls spring picnic menus that included sushi and bento boxes, the impact of racist land-ownership laws on his family, and his inability to communicate with his non-English-speaking grandmother during the many long hours they worked the fields side by side. Masumoto is particularly adept at conveying the junction at which tradition and modernity meet, describing the difficulties of choosing how to sticker his fruit and of following it to market, or portraying a visit by ten food editors from national magazines who "found it hard to slow their stride" while touring the farm and even harder to select their own peaches to be delivered overnight to their offices across the country. Most enchanting are his brief essays on family members. "Scent of My Father," which reports on Dad's tendency to smell of cut grass, mud, and sweat, pays moving homage to the ties of earth and blood. Intense, sensuous, lyrical, shaped bythe sensibility of a poet and the eye of a farmer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393325362
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/19/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 286
  • Sales rank: 530,006
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

David Mas Masumoto is the author of Harvest Son and Epitaph for a Peach. His organic farm is in Del Rey, California.

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