When Barbara Drake and her husband left Portland and moved to a small farm in western Oregon’s Yamhill Valley in the late 1980s, they saw it as a temporary relocation—they would return to the city eventually. But as the couple’s experiences on the farm multiplied—training herding dogs, enlisting a pair of traveling dowsers to help them find a good well, and stargazing in a singular nighttime darkness—they decide to hang on to their rural life as long as possible.
Barbara Drake articulates the lessons she’s learned from her long stint of country living in her new book, Morning Light. Replete with records of native wildflowers, an encounter with an elderly man who lived on her farm eighty years ago, and an old family recipe for wild blackberry pudding, Morning Light is an appreciation and exploration of the landscape of western Oregon, and readers will come to know it better through the book.
As entertaining and instructive as it is personal and reflective, Drake’s writing will resonate with anyone who has experienced a convergence of family history with natural history, considered their place in the historical continuum, or wondered if their lifestyle can be sustained with age.
In a world where even “the country” is becoming increasingly citified, Morning Light reminds us why we should care for our rural landscapes—while we still can.
About the author
Barbara Drake was born in Kansas in 1939, moved to Oregon in 1941, grew up in Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast, and earned BA and MFA degrees from the University of Oregon. After teaching at Michigan State University, she returned to Oregon in 1983 to develop the new creative writing major at Linfield College, where she taught until retiring as Professor Emerita in 2007. Drake has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and a widely used college textbook, Writing Poetry. Her book Peace at Heart: An Oregon Country Life was an Oregon Book Award finalist in 1999.
Read more about this author
"[Drake's] many years teaching university-level English brings a sprinkling of Tennyson, Leopold, Eliot, and others, lending a commiserative voice to her warm, restrained, marvelously grown up way with words."
–Matt Sutherland, Foreword Reviews