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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Archive for the 'Emerson' Category

Pruning

Reculer pour mieux sauter

January 1st, 2016

BY EMILY EMERSON

On my ramshackle farm in the French sticks, the closest I’ve come to The Farmer’s Almanac is a thing called the Calendrier lunaire, which gives a schema for every month of the year, a complex color-coded diagram featuring an s-curve to indicate the times of the moon’s waxing and waning, with, scattered along this curve, tiny drawings to indicate constellations and signs (fire signs, air signs, water signs, and earth signs), drawings of grains or fruit according to which days are good for working with these, and something to do with Chinese seasons which I don’t yet have a clue about. I feel that if I could only understand it, the Calendrier lunaire would give me all the answers I need to get through life.

grapesAfter a lot of effort I figured out that the optimum time for me to prune my grape vines in February was only up to February 20-21 at the end of the moon’s waning; after that, I’d have to wait until at least March 7, which, according to an organic gardening book I have, is kind of late to prune vines in the Loire Valley. I drove around the countryside here to check out the vineyards in the area and discovered that all the old guys were pruning away on February 19, so I hauled out one of the tall wooden ladders and climbed up to our vines, which ramble along the front of our big south-facing stone barn. These vines hadn’t been trimmed in some time. My book told me what to do, to look for the ex-fruit-bearing shoots and trim them back to the first node, and give the new fruit-bearing shoots two nodes heading up, or something like that. That’s what I tried to do, though I have to admit that as a pruner, I’m a wimp. It’s so hard to cut off life, when I can see those little buds forming.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: 13th Anniversary Issue, Emerson | Link to this Entry

The black stallion

September 1st, 2003

BY EMILY EMERSON

blackstallion.jpgOne of the perks of becoming a parent is that you discover a whole new world of entertainment options. While trying to entertain a rambunctious toddler and, later, an easily bored kid, I’ve gone to puppet shows on the Champs-Elysées, roving circuses in the French countryside, and dozens and dozens of movies for kids, ranging from predictable Disney drivel to some of the best films I’ve ever seen.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Emerson | Link to this Entry

Sam and Jane

June 1st, 2003

BY EMILY EMERSON

Book memories: a few stand out. The Little Engine that Could, for one, that morality tale for the pre-school set. You remember: “I think I can, I think I can,” (chugga chugga), “I think I can, I think I can,” (chugga chugga chugga chugga), “I KNOW I can!” (CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGGAAAAAA!). Moral: austeneven the littles of life can manage to pull off whatever they want if they chug hard enough. This idea, even though I don’t believe it, lurks in my mind and makes me feel guilty whenever I don’t just keep on chugging.

Or the Heidi books, which left me longing to live in a chilly chalet in the Alps, far from civilization, that smelled of dust, hay and wildflowers, with a silent old geezer who fed me bread and goat’s milk. Who knows? Maybe that’s one reason I’m living where I’m living now, in a chilly old house smelling of dust, hay and wildflowers, far from civilization in a part of the world where the bread is really good and the only cheese is chèvre. And then there’s Charlotte’s Web, thanks to which I’ve spent a lot of time saving spiders trapped in bathtubs.

These books took me to other worlds, but the book that made me see my own world most clearly, that made me see me and my own life most clearly, is Beckett’s Malone Dies, especially this bit: A man is lying partially paralyzed in a bed alone in a room somewhere, able to express himself only by writing with his pencil. Then, one day, as he’s writing, he drops the pencil:

“It is the soul that must be veiled, that soul denied in vain, vigilant, anxious, turning in its cage as in a lantern, in the night without heaven or craft or matter or understanding. Ah yes I have my little pastimes and they

What a misfortune, the pencil must have slipped from my fingers, for I have only just succeeded in recovering it after forty-eight hours (see above) of intermittent efforts.”

How could there ever be a truer account of life, and writing, than that?

But I admit that the book I’ve turned to most, the one I’ve reread more than any other, is Sense and Sensibility.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Book Issue, Books and Authors, Emerson | Link to this Entry

Author profile

December 1st, 2002

Emily Emerson, born and raised in Texas, is a freelance writer and author of several guidebooks to France. She has lived in that country since 1979 and makes her home in the Loire valley. Her Black Lamb column is called En Campagne.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Emerson | Link to this Entry

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