By Lois Braun
Shortlisted for the 2021 Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction
Part memoir, part social history, this collection of ten essays explores the various physical and natural elements that form the backdrop to Braun’s memories of growing up mid-20th century on a farm in southern Manitoba. From blackboard chalk to curling rocks in the chapter on stone, from mirages to straight-line winds in the essay on light and air, she reflects on her interactions with the elements as a child and how her responses influenced her evolution into adulthood. Braun includes intriguing tidbits about the science and history behind each element as it pertains to life in her unique location on our planet. The book highlights the value and beauty of the simple components of our surroundings that we take for granted growing up, exposes their true complexity, and reveals how the fascination with a “simple” thing can become a lifelong pursuit that sustains one’s artistic and spiritual needs.