Brian Swimme, author with Thomas Berry of The Universe Story and of the award-winning documentary, "The Journey of the Universe" with Mary Evelyn Tucker: “Magnificent… A thing of beauty…. A magnum opus. I think she has written something that could become a major work for our time.”
A Farm in Marin: Portraits in Time from Pangaea to Point Reyes is a literary work that combines memoir, history and fiction to produce a new genre that reflects a nascent twentieth century shift in perspective. It is a “deep history,” a definition of which appears in the opening of the book.
That a person is made of more than cells and sinew, more than genes and a personal history, but also of the deep earth fires and tides and the movements of distant stars; of galaxies and earthly plates colliding; of early ancestors, names unknown, who tread the paths worn smooth with human exploration, longing and despair; of the debris of fallen civilizations; tales of their heroes and their villains, who warp the shape of psychic cells with whorls and furrows; of luminous souls who have kept a lamp burning in the galactic dark to signal our presence and our project… We, the unique creatures of Earth, this living blue and green garden sailing about the Sun.
That we are each made of all this and so much more, spun in the web of a cosmic whole and holiness…
I call this Deep History.
The work travels across this deep history as if it were a vast continent of the mind, creating a different kind of Present, even as a telescope brings into our current moment a scene not otherwise accessible to us: A distant planet or the rings of Saturn; an island in the sea or a rare bird on a branch. Our personal present expands richly from this experience and so does our own "presence" on the planet.
A Farm in Marin is a story of migrations—of continents and of people; migrations born of desperation and upheaval, as we see today, but also of hope and ambition. An Earth Calendar is introduced at the outset in which the Earth’s history is condensed into a single year. This forms the foundation of the entire book as the underlying story; Gaia’s story. Above this, geological, cultural and personal histories are layered in a narrative that combines the writer’s experience of the present with portraits of people from across the reaches of time. Each portrait stands alone as a humorous, serious or informative cameo, followed by a background of the times and places. You will meet Homer and Aeneas, Augustine of Hippo, Tariq ibn Ziyad, Petrarch, Jefferson, Franklin, John Sutter, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir and many others.
Throughout the book, the land itself has been a main character and it comes to the fore as the theme in the last section as San Francisco and Marín meet the challenges of conservation and the future of agriculture, led by several of the families we have followed out of Ticino.
There is a memoir-like quality in the rhythmic returns to the Present in the author's 1972 cabover camper, “Mr. Fields,” perched over the edge of a creek at Grossi Farms in Sonoma owned by Dominic’s grandson Ed Grossi and his wife Susie. These sections unfold as a layer with a story line of its own. Ed Grossi was born on the farm in Marín and was the first to tell me its story.
A Farm in Marin is a cultural riff through time; a tapestry of stories that present a new experience of the Gaia Enterprise—our planetary history viewed through the lens of Western culture and scientific discovery, given depth and breadth by these unusual perspectives. The stories around Dominic’s emigration from Ticino, Switzerland to the farm in Marin become the fractal of the larger emigration from there that would eventually dominate the dairy industry of Point Reyes; an emigration story that lies in the history of so many people on the planet.
-- Sheri Ritchlin
~WATCH THE VIDEO INTRODUCTION
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To be published in Fall 2017 by TriS Foundation and distributed by Millichap Books