Friday, June 26, 2015

The Cross Gardener by Jason F Wright

Park Grove Book Club's June evening was spent on the Mississippi River at one of our gracious members home.  Potluck goodies were shared with a few "apples" sprinkled among the feast.  Thirteen members attended and most liked the book (8) with some (5) rating it with a neutral review.

One member said "Didn't want to read it cause I lived that life, just started it and continued to read and wanted to see who the cross gardener was.  I read it in 24 hours."  Another "Glad I didn't read the cover, liked it until I read about the car accident and it felt like a movie at Hallmark Channel."  "I thought it was 'spiritual fluff' on grief and what to do.  Father wasn't paying attention to his daughter.  Wasn't in the mood for grieving." "Wanted to hear more about the characters in the story" another member said about the book.

Two of the wives of the orchardists left the farm.  We loved Emma Jane and glad she was a part of the orchard.  We talked about the women in the book.  "Women couldn't give life, the orchard was the giver of life, brings him back to life.  Also hard work centers yourself.  The cycle picks you up and carries you through." someone shared.

There were different ways people were shown grieving in the book.  Was interesting to see his in-laws at the cemetery.  He realized that he's not the only one.  "Grief is overwhelming, you can't see it."

We talked about the first part of the book, "life was too rosy I knew something was going to happen."  We wondered who the Cross Gardener was.  A couple people in the group had it all figured out, and most of us where wondering how they knew!  

It was a good discussion on grief, how we each grieve differently with our losses and the journey we take with it.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

May brought us the end of the school days (well, almost) and a journey that would be an inspiration to those who read this month's book club book "Wild From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail."  Seventeen members attending this discussion at the Park Grove Branch Library (Washington County Library Book Club, in Cottage Grove, MN). Most everyone gave it a positive review, with a few "mixed."

"Well written, I hope I can achieve something like this in my life" one of our members said, and another added "Wish I was brave enough (to have an adventure like this) maybe when I was younger I would have, now I'm not in shape."  "Admire her perseverance through childhood and through the choices she made.  She made them and she owned them" another participant shared, adding "Would have liked to have heard more about nature."  Another added, about the choices made "Her choices weren't always good, but she was honest about them, I admire she stayed with her mother all that time."

"Last October saw Cheryl's talk at Concordia College in St. Paul, it was just like sitting down having a conversation with her, she's very warm and comfortable."  Another said "Saw Cheryl, saw movie, read book.  She is very open, she shared but wasn't in a shameful way.  It was like she was running way.  Have you ever tried to run away?  Did you have everything thought out ahead of time?"

A few members have been to the area where Cheryl walked, on the Pacific Coast Trail.  Another person said they backpacked the Rockies, "tied themselves together through the snow stuff."  Another took "Amtrak and stayed at hostels along the route from San Diego to Seattle.  It felt good to meet people and sharing.  I've done that, watching people eat, like Cheryl.  So hungry."  Another said she has hiked Glacier in bear country, "you need to talk and sing as you go.  It took courage for her to go by herself."

We talked about the point of view of walking and grief.  She was at such a low point in her life, she didn't need to go to the Boundary Waters, she needed to go to some place distant."  She was in "deep grief and had to do something."   "The world moves very fast, walking is slow, getting inside your head is good."  "The cure for grief is motion."  "She may have been different if she stayed at home."

One person said that about hiking by yourself, the hardest is the solitude and being by yourself, but how restorative it is to be in nature.  Another member shared "Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv reflects the different aspects of what loss of nature can give you -- insomnia, obesity, health issues with kids not getting outside in nature.  They are wired.  Excellent source as what is happening to our kids." Another said "there is a comfort of living with woods, connection to the land."

We talked at length about Cheryl's choices, "while remorseful she never felt ashamed."  We talked about the incident when she had to put her family's horse down.  She didn't have the money to do this.  Was it a sign of strength or character?  "It is what it is, I can own it and move on." someone said. "Buck up Buttercup" was a saying her mom use to tell her.

There was so much discussed about this book and the adventure Cheryl Wild had throughout her life so far.  Many members had read the book twice, some have heard Cheryl talk, and some have watched the movie.  We could have discussed this book for a couple of hours more.  I hope our members add their thoughts to this discussion below.