“A restless city poet recounts her experiment with country living.
The idea to swim against the “consumptive current” and move west came to Minato (The Wider Lens, 2004) during a Chicago traffic jam. Increasingly bothered by the global impact her metropolitan existence was having on the environment, the poet packed up and headed to Oregon for graduate school. But after eight years, even Eugene proved too urban for her, and she moved again, this time to a ten-square-foot cabin that was part of an eight-acre commune on Siesta Lane in the relative wilds of Rainbow Valley, Ore. Her memoir, a veritable menagerie of thoughts, observations, photos, poems and lovely pen-and-ink drawings by Muir, is the result of Minato’s year or so away, where she discovered as much about herself as the wonders of nature. “Not so simple—simple living,” she realized early on. Characterizing each of her fellow Siesta Lane residents, the author doesn’t neglect herself, saying she’s a “single woman with ninety-eight part-time jobs trying to figure out how she connects to the greater forces of the universe and to the tiny earwigs that hide in the curled-up seed heads of Queen Anne’s lace.” Part of this volume’s charm lies in its somewhat fractured composition, which mirrors the author’s state of mind during this transitional period. Short chapters hop from “Incubation” to “Freaks” to “July” to “The Garden,” while loosely conveying the sense of time’s passage as Minato adjusted to her rustic domestic situation. Living without many modern conveniences—for example, only the commune’s main building had a kitchen and running water—led her to provocative conclusions: “For us it appears to primarily be the mind that evolves, and we then cater our surroundings to our weakening bodies.” She took some radical actions as well, such as getting rid of her cat after he brought home one too many birds.
An evocative record of a year in the woods and an interesting study in enacting one’s beliefs. ”
Title Siesta Lane
Subtitle A Year Unplugged, or, The Good Intentions of Ten People, Two Cats, One Old Dog, Eight Acres, One Telephone, Three Cars, and Twenty Miles to the Nearest Town
Author Amy Minato
BISAC Subject Heading
BIO026000 BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs