cover image DIRT UNDER MY NAILS: An American Farmer and Her Changing Land

DIRT UNDER MY NAILS: An American Farmer and Her Changing Land

Marilee Foster, Foster Marilee, . . Bridge Works, $22.95 (184pp) ISBN 978-1-882593-54-5

After graduating from college in 1994, the author decided not to take any of the career paths usually followed by liberal arts students. Instead, she joined her brother in the family business, a 600-acre potato farm in Sagaponack, N.Y. In this engaging book, based on a weekly column she writes for the Southampton Press, Foster muses about the pleasures of farming, even on land at the eastern end of Long Island, where development is so rampant that her town seems like "a territory under siege." Although she is often tempted to block out mentally the sight of the "architectural eruptions" that surround the farm, for the most part she takes the changes in stride, ignoring the spackle buckets and pieces of cardboard that blow over into her fields from adjacent construction sites and observing with amusement the antics of the seasonal residents who jog past her in spandex outfits. These are, after all, the customers who buy her vegetables at the roadside farm stand she runs as a sideline to the main business of the farm. Instead, Foster tries to concentrate on the pleasures that make farming life so rewarding for her, chronicling the four seasons with entertaining accounts of farm activities. Her charming essays sparkle with insight and humor, and speak movingly of the enchantment she finds in the world around her, even when it is in danger of being lost forever. (May)