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Weathering Winter: A Gardener's Daybook

Weathering Winter: A Gardener's Daybook

4.0 1
by Carl H. Klaus

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In winter, when the only things growing seem to be icicles and irritability, what pleasures exist for a gardener or for anyone who lives in a northern climate? In his distinctive daybook, Weathering Winter, Carl Klaus reminds readers that the season of brown twigs and icy gales is just as much a part of the year as when tulips open, tomatoes thrive,


In winter, when the only things growing seem to be icicles and irritability, what pleasures exist for a gardener or for anyone who lives in a northern climate? In his distinctive daybook, Weathering Winter, Carl Klaus reminds readers that the season of brown twigs and icy gales is just as much a part of the year as when tulips open, tomatoes thrive, and pumpkins color the brown earth. From the first cold snap of late December 1994 to the first outdoor planting of onion sets and radish seeds in mid-March 1995, Klaus kept track of snow falling, birds flocking, soups simmering, gardening catalogs arriving, buds swelling, and seed trays coming to life. Gardeners, lovers of the out-of-doors, and weather watchers will recognize themselves in the ways in which Klaus has come to terms with the harsh climate and chilly truths that winter embodies. His constant, careful checks on the temperature and on the geraniums overwintering in the attic, his contentment in the basil- and garlic-flavored tomato sauce he cooked up from last season's crops, and his walks with his wife in the bitter chill of starry January nights reflect the pull between indoors and out, the contrast between the beauty and the cruelty of the season.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After the theatrical, profligate growth recorded in Klaus's lovely My Vegetable Love: A Journal of a Growing Season, it's hard to imagine what he'll do with sterile winter. But the dead of winter is a misnomer, and during the two and a half months (December 31st to March 15th) recorded here, he recounts the swings in the season and his own mood. From the first wrinkly, overpriced store-bought green pepper, he thinks of his own crops. Working with the odd spider plant, household geranium or cymbidium orchid isn't enough for Klaus. Although the garden is largely inactive, the gardener can't be, and Klaus bides his time in optimistic plantings, in fears for vegetables exposed to harsh temperatures, in defrosting the bounty of harvests past and, most of all in gardening dreams, that first of which arrives in the indescribably enticing form of a seed catalogue. He's at his best when he describes the loveliness of winter, like the red of the barberry against the snow, or a day "so cold and dry that flakes glisten in the air and glitter on the snow." But winter is clearly not Klaus's favorite season, and too much of his daybook is thinking about the weather, checking the pulse of the season, looking for signs that it is on its way out. In this way, in particular, this seems like a prelude to My Vegetable Love, in which Klaus reveals his true passions. (Oct.)
Library Journal
What does a thoughtful and serious gardener do instead of gardening in the wintertime in Iowa City? Lesser individuals might have flown off to the Caribbean to survive a Midwest freeze; Klaus (My Vegetable Love: A Journal of a Growing Season, LJ 8/96) instead contemplates the effects of wintertime on plants, animals, and people. Most Midwesterners garden only in their houses or minds during the early months of the year, but Klaus constantly plans for the coming growing months. Writing of an Iowa winter from December 31, 1994, to March 15, 1995, he reflects on the rhythms of life, showing how routines and work help one get through the bleak days. This individual perspective on winter is both a diary and insight into human existence. Readers in public libraries will find life here that will keep them looking forward to another spring and gardening season.Dale Frederick Luchsinger, Milwaukee Area Technical Coll. Lib, Wis.
Klaus, founder and former director of the University of Iowa's non- fiction writing program, presents an entirely charming daybook of seasonal change, from the frozen fris<'e>e of the late December garden to the setting out of onion sets and radishes in mid-March. Meditations range from food, weather, and the feeding of birds to the nature of change and the latent promise of a garden. 5.5x6<">. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
The journal of one winter by Klaus, a gardener, writer, and semi-retired teacher stranded happily in Iowa City.

Meant as a companion volume to Klaus's previous daybook, My Vegetable Love (1996), this diary sequel was kept during the winter of 1996 from New Year's Eve to March 15th. It is smaller and less vital than the book before. Perhaps the season itself imposed a constraint on Klaus—gardeners like to have growth to write about. For lack of that in his snow-filled "three-quarter-acre lot," the wind-chilled author becomes monotonously obsessed with his midwestern "warlike weatherscape." He combs the Internet, the Weather Channel, and the almanacs for long-range forecasts, fussing over the season's shifting moods and temperatures. To soothe mild woes, he downs countless bowls of soup. He ritually walks his dog, doctors his cat, considers seeds, and feeds the birds. Klaus's inevitable cabin fever, though, fails to lead him toward introspection or insight. He doesn't have the stamina, the imagination, or the bent to think about winter or observe it in depth. Even his verbal snapshots of wintry scenes seem willfully trite. His avuncular charm may need a fuller page, a tree with fruit to describe—not the grip of ice. The fact that the season brings him no real hardship, only a predictable frustration and inconvenience, also keeps the drama out of this tale of supposed stoicism and rumored wherewithal. When Klaus worries that his written "winter watch" may seem "trivial" to others, he is right.

Dull heartland postcards about the fallow months.

Product Details

University of Iowa Press
Publication date:
Bur Oak Book
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
450 KB

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Meet the Author

Carl H. Klaus, founding director of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, professor emeritus at the University of Iowa, and coeditor of Sightline Books: The Iowa Series in Literary Nonfiction, is a diarist, essayist, and author or coauthor of several textbooks on writing. His nonfiction includes My Vegetable Love (Iowa paperback 2000) and its companion Weathering Winter (Iowa, 1997) as well as Taking Retirement: A Beginner’s Diary and Letters to Kate: Life after Life (Iowa, 2006).

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Weathering Winter: A Gardner's Daybook 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellant book to read on a cold winters day