Moving Into a Different World a bib by Marianne Ramsden

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Article in Adult Nonfiction, Biography, Setting, and Personal Picks

508 Siebert, Charles. Wickerby: An Urban Pastoral. 1998

Leaving a tumbledown Brooklyn neighborhood, the author leaves for an old collapsing log cabin in the woods of Canada. Upon entering the cabin he saw: "A tiny red bulb twittered to my immediate left. I shined the flashlight. It was one of those sonic pest-control devices...It looked rather ridiculous there on top of Wickerby’s refrigerator, covered in mouse droppings."

508.716 Hays, Daniel. On Whale Island: Notes From a Place I Never Meant to Leave. 2002.

With his wife and her son, the author moves to a rugged, windswept island off the Nova Scotia coast. They spend a year in a small house and each keeps a diary. "DAY 62: It was a blowy night. The house trembled and it was as if we’d put a quarter in the slot of a vibrating hotel bed. It was a board-game sort of morning, so we had Monopoly with our coffee..."

636.3 Ellison, Joan Jarvis. Shepherdess: Notes From the Field. 1996

Wanting a career change, the author segues from biochemist and full-time mother to buying sheep and becoming a shepherdess. "I worried when we first bought sheep that our dogs would kill them, and we carefully latched the gate every time we went through. Then one day we forgot. I looked out the kitchen window and saw the sheep ravenously eating lettuce. And the sheep- killing dogs? They were in the pasture ravenously eating sheep manure."

814 Perrin, Noel. First Person Rural: Essays of a Sometime Farmer. 1978 (Followed by Second Person Rural: More Essays of a Sometime Farmer and Third Person Rural: Further Essays of a Sometime Farmer)

Transplanted from New York City to a Vermont farm, the author gives us delightful vignettes about rural living, farms, farmers and farming."The difference between ‘a place in the country’ and a farm is chiefly the matter of livestock. You can own 200 acres, you can pick your own apples, you can buy a small tractor—and you’re still just a suburbanite with an unusually large lot. But put one cow in your pasture, raise a couple of sheep, even buy a pig, and instantly your place becomes a farm."

914.49 Drinkwater, Carol. The Olive Farm; A Memoir of Life, Love and Olive Oil in the South of France. 2001

A young couple buys a run-down farm on ten acres in southern France. After a fair amount of trials and tribulations they turn it into a thriving business. At the first visit to the farm house: "we are moving through a sea of cobwebs. A deep musty stench takes our breath away. Walls hang with perished wiring....Strips of wallpaper curl to the floor like weeping silhouettes. Tiny shriveled reptiles crunch underfoot....There is an ambiance."

914.4 Mayle, Peter. A Year in Provence. 1990 (Followed by Toujours Provence and Encore Provence)

A month-to-month account of the charms and frustrations that the author and his wife experience during their first year while restoring a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the south of France.

914.55 Mate, Ferenc. The Hills of Tuscany: A New Life in an Old Land. 1999

A true-life adventure of a couple who did what most of us only dream of doing: they gave up the big city life for a new life in Tuscany. "We fell into the abyss of the infamous Italian bureaucracy...we were [in the office] to procure a coidice fiscale, a sort of financial number without which—as any dead-eyed civil servant will be thrilled to tell you—it is assolutamente impossible to have your electricity hooked up or telephone connected, or indeed to purchase any object larger than a shoe."

914.55 Mayes, Frances. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy and Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy. 1998, 1999.

Mayes buys a decrepit house in a small village in Tuscany and although she is not a year-round resident spends all vacations there. The books are filled with friendship, festivity, and food. "All over a valley of almond tress and wildflowers stands a mind-boggling array of remains from an ancient town, from temples to sewer pipes. You could stay for days and not see everything."

917.552 Holland, Barbara. Bingo night at the fire hall: the case for cows, orchards, bake sales, & fairs. 1997

The author inherits a summer cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains, quits her job, says good-bye to friends and starts a new life stoking wood-stoves, learning to live with bears, and the people whose families have always lived there. During her first heavy snow: "I feed the stove, light the lamps, and walk from bookcase to bedroom and back to bookcase. I reflect bitterly on friends I used to have who collected oil lamps as ornaments. Antiques. Décor. Groping in the kitchen’s bosky gloom I set my sandwich in a puddle of lamp oil but don’t notice until I’ve taken the first bite."

917.58 Blackmarr, Amy. Going to Ground: Simple Life on a Georgia Pond.1997

A five-year journal of life in a falling-down fishing cabin mixed with views from a previous life in a large city. "The wood floor humps up in summer and sinks in winter and it’s going soft in places. One day when the weather is cold I’ll get up the nerve to crawl under the cabin among the rattlesnake nests and figure out how to shore up the floor."

92 Korda, Michael. Country Matters: The Pleasures and Tribulations of Moving From a Big City to an Old Country Farmhouse. 2001

When he decides to take up residence in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in upstate New York, Korda discovers what country life is really like. "When eventually a Dunkin’ Donuts opened in Pleasant Valley, I took to going there in the morning to pick up a cup of coffee for myself....That too brought me face-to-face with most of the people I wanted to see—the plumber, who still hadn’t come round to fix a leaking faucet, the oil heat service guys who were supposed to have cleaned the furnace but never showed up, the electrician, the painter, whoever...."

92 Laskas, Jeanne Marie. Fifty Acres and a Poodle: A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm. 2000 and The Exact Same Moon: Fifty Acres and a Family. 2003.

Laskas, who is a Washington Post columnist, buys Sweetwater Farm and moves in, initially with just a poodle and a boyfriend. Later, they marry and adopt two daughters. Their life is tumultuous, touching and full of adventures and Laskas tells of their country life with humor and warmth. "Joe Crowley’s garage is a few miles down the road. When I called to make a truck appointment, Joe said we didn’t need an appointment. He said we should knock on the kitchen door and he’ll come out. ‘A kitchen door at a garage?’ Alex asks. ‘That’s what he said.’ When we pull up to Joe’s, we see that his garage is, well, a two-car garage attached to a house. ’Hey, the wife made pancakes,’ Joe says, emerging wiping his mouth on his sleeve."

92 McMullen, Jeanine. A Small Country Living Goes On. 1992

The setting is a mountain farm in Wales full of wacky personalities, odd crafts, and rare breeds of domestic animals. The book is an engaging collection of lively country tales, which were broadcast, by the author, on BBC radio. "Prince was a little whippet which we’d rescued, years before, from an appalling fate. He’d been bought cheaply by a farmer’s son for rabbiting, been tired of, replaced by a couple of terriers, and left to starve to death in an old pigsty, still full of muck. They couldn’t be bothered to waste a bullet on him."

92 Ogilvie, Elisabeth. My World is an Island. 1950, 1990.

The author tells of her life on an island off the Maine coast beginning in the late 1940s. Deciding to move into an old house on Gay’s island: "...we agreed the most sensible plan would be to clean the house thoroughly before we thought of moving into it. It was inch-deep in dust, hung magnificently with cobwebs, and tinted everywhere a lovely, furry Oxford-gray tone with soot. The furnishings—kind word for them—left behind by earlier tenants would have to be thrown out before we could put anything in."

92 Reiger, Goerge. Heron Hill Chronicle: Self-sufficiency and Stewardship on a Salt Marsh Farm. 1995

Reiger, a world-savvy New Yorker, gives up a lucrative career in midlife and moves to a farm in coastal Virginia. He falls in love with the salt marsh and offers a full and rich portrait of a coastal farm and way of life. Throughout, he writes passionately of stewardship and conservation explores our relationship to the physical world. "My favorite mammal in the marsh is the otter. Thanks to the convergence here of two watersheds, two pairs of otters sometimes frequent the upper marsh. A less productive habitat would be fortunate to have a single pair merely wander through."

92 Wharton, William. Houseboat on the Seine. 1996

This is an account of how the author buys a crippled wooden burned-out hulk in the Parisian river and transforms it into a habitable houseboat for himself and his family. "First I build up that side with the water sloshing in. Then I clean out and scrape or scrap all the charred interior. This involves, among other things, replacing forty-five small mullioned window panes."