Blogger and researcher Jim Fletcher has worked in the book publishing industry for 15 years, and is now director of the apologetics group Prophecy Matters. His new book, "Truth Wins," provides important analysis of Rob Bell and his Emergent friends.More ↓Less ↑
With only days to go before the most important presidential election in generations – OK, ever – which book might prove to be most valuable to the populace?
That question requires another question: What book might prove the most valuable if a dreaded Obama II becomes reality? Would it be a political book? A book filled with sage advice from a pundit?
Yes, this classic 1972 treatment of simple living, from folks in the north Georgia Appalachian Mountains, might come in very handy. “The Foxfire Book” came from a quarterly magazine started in 1966.
The truth is, while some of us can be called fringe “birther” people (thanks, David Axelrod), there are quite a few sophisticated conservatives out there who are at least mentally preparing for a very different America than the one we grew up in. That’s why Eliot Wigginton’s treasure of old mountain recipes, building skills and planting tips could prove to be one of the books of this upcoming year.
In 1972, such skills were considered quaint and appealed somewhat to surburbanites who liked to fantasize about tossing off the commutes and noise and “getting back to nature.” Yet, we are now in position to actually use these skills, seriously, if things who really wacky in America.
Every page of “The Foxfire Book” is fascinating (a bonus is the original photos collection, and there are a lot of them, showing the reader step-by-step how, to for example, make soap).
In a post-apocalyptic Obama America, one might even need to build a shelter. Note this kind of detail from “The Foxfire Book”: “Sawmill lathing, set on two-foot centers, should be nailed to the pole rafters (Plate 127). If you are able to obtain hand-split shingles, use them. If not, sawmill shingles may be used. Dip them in creosote before nailing them to the roof.”
Or how about the section on hunting small game?
Listen as mountain man Lake Stiles explains to Wigginton and his students (an English class from Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School) how to handle a groundhog: “He’ll stick his head out an’ look for y’, but if he sees y’ a second time and goes back, he’ll not come back anytime soon. They’ll rear up on their hind feet an’ pop their teeth at’cha like they’re goin’ t’ eat’cha up.”
We are then told that the groundhog can also be “twisted” out of his hole like coon.
In all seriousness, “The Foxfire Book” (there are sequels) does contain a mountain of information that could prove to be useful.
For example, in the chapter “Planting by the Signs,” we learn: “Plant all things which yield above the ground during the increase of growing of the moon, and all things which yield below the ground (root crops) when the moon is decreasing or darkening.”
These are small, practical bits of information useful to anyone – even an accountant in Downer’s Grove, Ill., could do this in his backyard.
More than that, there is such a setting of peace associated with “The Foxfire Book.” On pages 24-25, a black-and-white photograph of an elderly woman sitting on her log cabin porch brings temporary relief to a world that today seems chaotic, spinning out of control. Simply reading “The Foxfire Book” can have a healing and transformative effect on the busiest person.
How fortunate those students of Eliot Wigginton’s were, since a large part of their assignment was to conduct interviews with these old timers; they were preserving a part of America’s past that was rapidly dying. This sociological experiment proves to be a riveting read.
For example, if you ever need to be able to distinguish between various kinds of snakes, these folks are your source material: “HARV REID: ‘I’ve seed them. [Coachwhip snakes] grow about five or six foot long. They look just like a black snake, and about half their tail is like a whup. It’s platted int’a about four plats. You can see them plats in it. They say they’ll whop th’ dickens out of y’.”
Oh, my, “The Foxfire Book” is great fun and is the kind of book you won’t part with, ever. Many thanks to Eliot Wigginton, those students and the men and women of the mountains who knew how to survive in an often hostile world.