Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm

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A lyrical, sensuous and thoroughly engrossing memoir of one critical year in the life of an organic peach farmer, Epitaph for a Peach is "a delightful narrative . . . with poetic flair and a sense of humor" (Library Journal). Line drawings.

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Sep 2, 2007

To Everything There is a Season

When David Mas Masumoto, a farmer in Central California's San Joaquin Valley, pledged to save his orchard of Sun Crest peaches, he also committed to preserving his "chosen life," the imperiled existence of the small farmer. And so, his memoir of a year on the farm, Epitaph for a Peach, is not only an elegy to a vanishing way of life, but a heartening Whitmanic song of praise to family, community, tradition, and the inestimable value of a life lived in accord with nature.

Masumoto recounts the daily life of the farm in a clear, simple, modestly lyrical prose. The variety and nature of work--picking peaches, pruning trees, warding off pests--is at this memoir's very core, and described accurately, at times lovingly. Interspersed throughout the narrative are satisfying epiphanies of the spirit: a lovely meditation on what a farmhouse porch symbolizes; a childhood remembrance of an owl's dark death.

Perhaps most fortifying is the author's heartfelt sense of connection to his family, neighbors, and the land. The memoir closes with the flight of a white egret in winter: "Then the egret crouches, bends her legs, and launches herself upward toward the heavens. I watch her spread her wings wide and, with each stroke, soar higher aloft, circling the farm and me." It is an image of rebirth and hope. Masumoto's book expresses a life-affirming wholeness of vision. This reader genuinely wishes for the survival of the author's profoundly sane, yet endangered circle of living.

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