All of This is Very Good


Driving over the mountain road at night, the fog is so thick I’m forced to slow to second gear, 20 mph or even less, though I know this route with back-of-hand familiarity. But the suspended water vapor plays all manner of tricks on my mind, and for a moment, I’m no longer convinced I’m even on the right road: Have I taken a wrong turn? Was this really the way I meant to go? But I carry on, and eventually descend to the lower flanks of the mountain, where there is no snow left to melt and thus no fog, and now can see that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, behind the wheel of our little car, churning through the mud, on my way to pick up yet more used building materials (always, always with the used building materials), the night close around me.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working on a book with our dear friend, Luke Boushee, a wilderness educator, amazing illustrator, and all-around wonderful person. It’s called The Young Adventurer’s Guide to (Almost) Everything, and it was published last week. It’s a total departure for me; not at all the narrative non-fiction I’m accustomed to, but I’m happy with how it came out. I love Luke’s illustrations, they’re the perfect combination of instruction and whimsy, and they’re really fun to look at, even if you’re not particularly young. Or adventurous, for that matter. Penny wrote the bulk of the instructional text, and I handled the less-technical stuff, mostly because I’m a less-technical sort of person. It was a true team effort, and it’s gratifying to see it come to life.

If you happen to have read the book, and if you are so inclined, I would be very grateful if you would drop by Amazon and write a review. Naturally, I’d prefer folks purchased from their local, independent book seller (don’t have one? Maybe you’d consider supporting one of my favorites, here and here), but the Amazon reviews are still important, both from people who are purchasing there, and for those who are just browsing. Thank you for considering this.

That’s all for now, except to say that the season has finally turned in full. The snow is nearly gone, even from the stubborn, northern facing hollows, and the cows are restless, eyeing the early shoots of young grass beyond their paddock gate. The windows thrown open, laundry on the line. And early this morning, still half dark, I pulled my bike from the basement and pedaled down the road. First ride of the season.

It was a very long winter, and all of this is very good.

26 thoughts on “All of This is Very Good”

  1. I just bought two copies, Ben – one for me (an old adventurer) and one for my ten-year-old nephew. I’ll post a review to Amazon soon. Happy Spring!

  2. Ah okay, that worked. But I’ll have to do it again. Grrr.

    Boy am I relieved to know that people younger than me get just as disoriented driving in the dark on back roads. (Like, “What road is this? What am I doing on it?”)

    Longest winter ever. January started the first week of November.

    For us the cusp of the season is when the ice goes off the pond and the frogs start cheeping. (I used to think they were peepers, but have been assured by experts they’re just one of about 6 species living here–peepers come later.) Still snow on north slopes. Our dooryard just turned a few days ago. That’s at 1850 feet.

    Mud is another story. Roads dried out except for the ones that are still getting worse.

    Happy spring, everybody!

  3. Just bought your book (on Amazon) for my six year old daughter and me! My fantasy is to leave my mega-metropolis life and live like you do in Vermont. Thank you for your blog and a dose of how life should be lived.

  4. I’m so excited about this book! I just ordered a copy for my son’s birthday. It is not until July but I was too excited to see the book myself. I’ll be sure to go leave a review over on Amazon for you. 🙂

  5. Can old coots read the book too? I have the maturity of a 10 year old, so I hope that counts! (I already like that the cover says ‘poop’ on it….excellent!)

  6. Hey Ben,

    I know nothing about children, as you know. What age range is your book appropriate for, in case I want to give it as a gift?

  7. Finally! All my pleas for a new book have paid off. 🙂 Will be buying for my two wild young’ns who keep me and my husband young. I am also learning to appreciate potty humor. Love being the mama of boys. Congratulations and Happy Spring!

      1. Bought the book over the weekend and am enjoying diving into it. Will leave a review on Amazon when I am finished reading. Thank Penny for all her hard work, too. 🙂

      2. Not over the weekend! What was I saying? I don’t know what day it is right now but I’m OK. Regardless of when it was purchased, I am enjoying it so much! 🙂

  8. ‘Glad to hear that your long run of Winter weather has finally come to an end and that you’ll soon be preparing the soil and planting your gardens. I’m about finished preparing my garden and will plant in the next couple of days. No more threat of frost here in Nebraska.
    Your new book looks interesting, Wal-Mart is selling them for around $11.

      1. The only “local” bookstores anywhere near me are Barnes & Noble and Halfprice Books. B&N is a chain, so no real difference than if buying from W-M, and Ben’s book is too new to show up on the shelves at 1/2 Price.
        I hope that W-M is able to build a bigger/better store in Summit County before I retire there, As much as I enjoyed most aspects of living rural, I will miss the many shopping options available in suburbia.

    1. You know, that is one thing about living rural that city people don’t know. There’s so very little in the way of choices. For restaurants. For stores. For just about any thing. If you’re moving from city to rural this could be a big surprise. Sometimes the only place to get variety is Amazon. Amazon… the Montgomery Ward catalog of today.

      1. Amazon doesn’t repurpose as well as the MW catalog. Or so I’m told. I’m a Quilted Northern guy myself and learned while serving in the U.S. Army that a wise man packs his own roll of TP. Don’t leave home without it.

  9. What a fun book! I am reading it every night before bed. I’m going to give it to my daughter after I’m done. She’ll love it. Good intro. I like the mention of cultural appropriation. You guys think stuff through. I realize I should have a fixed blade knife and thanks for the Mora suggestion. You must have had fun writing it. At least I hope you did! Because fun shines through in your words!

  10. I got the book and think that it has a lot of useful info packed into 187 pages.

    This is not a criticism of your knife recommendation, but i’m not a Mora knife fan. When it comes to inexpensive knives, I kind of like the Gerber Freeman Guide and Smokey Mountain Knife Works sells them for $17 as their part number G3584. http://www.smkw.com

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