May Days
by Samuel F., Jr Pickering
University of Iowa Press, 1995
Paper: 978-0-87745-522-6 | eISBN: 978-1-58729-189-0


In this collection of eleven wry essays, Samuel Pickering illuminates the ordinary, making what is common in life stand out with gemlike brilliance. An amateur naturalist and devoted father, Pickering offers his reflections on family lore, curious artifacts, the endearing absurdities of everyday life, and his attempts to understand and appreciate the rich world of nature.

With a self-ironic, unpretentious voice, Pickering takes us to the bucolic settings of rural Nova Scotia and small-town Tennessee, as well as a New England academic environment. There we witness his balancing act between suburban and rural life, between the pressures of the workaday world and the temptation of nature, the call to explore what is so often ignored, the need to remember the roots of our past.

Whether writing about Miss Kitty and Miss Jo Sewall, E. W. Childers and the fish he caught in Difficult Creek, or the naming and renaming of flowers—Purple Orchis, Skullcap, Riverwater Pink—Pickering reveals an inquiring, gentle regard for nature and humanity. His anecdotes present the history and folklore of his own family as well as Everyman's history and lore as he uncovers some of the subtle truths that lie unnoticed in the common events and realities of life.

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