I have found the perfect Bedtime Story Collection for Grown-ups. Scratching the Woodchuck, Nature on an Amish Farm, by David Kline, is an arrangement of essays he wrote for a local newspaper about just what the title says. He shares his observations of birds, insects, butterflies, rodents, large and small mammals and the always hot topic, the weather. Each essay is no longer than 3 pages and covers one animal, bird, or weather event, which is easily read and received in a few minutes.
The tone is smooth with little jarring language, though he does not hold back on describing the realities of life and death in nature. His talent is in placing the bird in the glorious whole of God’s creation. Death is not tragic, though he does notice when it is needless, like roadkill weasels or house wrens destroying bluebird eggs. Life is birthed anew in the fox den or the rabbit hole. There is no waste.
Reading the stories, one by one, every evening is bittersweet for me. The flora and fauna are close to my heart because I grew up in Ohio. I get a little misty-eyed, wishing I were so intimately connected to a certain place, preferably in that state.
Mr. Kline wears his faith lightly. From his wealth of language, descriptive powers, and biological knowledge, you would not guess this was a man with “only” an 8th grade education. He is a man with a lifetime of education; curiosity well fed on the acres of his family farm. He weaves his compartments, or what we moderns make compartments, of faith, filial ties, and neighbors into the essays as they relate to the subject at hand. You almost feel like to you step into that world for the drowsy moments you have spent with the book each night.
If you would like to purchase the book, I recommend Lehman’s store as the source. They are a family-run business close by to where Mr. Kline lives.