Book Review: FOXFIRE
I’ve been having guests on my show Surviving Dystopia to talk about their books and have talked about mine a lot, but I want to talk about a favorite series of books. The Foxfire Books… I currently have volumes 1-6 and every time I open the pages of this wonderful walk into history I am amazed at how it came about and what it really represents.
Foxfire came about as a classroom experiment…Yep, you got it right students did this! Their teacher Eliot Wigginton, flustered with his class and at a loss as to how to engage his students decided on a very unique approach to get them participating. The students not only learned what they needed to for school but much more than they ever thought they would. Setting is the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, Rabun Gap is right
in the Appalachians of Georgia. God’s country, as they say.
What strikes me right out of the gate is the dedication in the very first volume…
” This book is dedicated to the people of these mountains in the hope that, through it, some portion of their wisdom, ingenuity and individuality will remain long after them to touch us all.”
I have often mused on the show about things I learned from my grandmother and mother, how I could sit for hours and listen to the stories that “gramma” would tell soaking up every bit of information she would share with me and now do the same with my mother and share with my daughter. It is a great circle of information and too often it is lost.
“Daily our grandparents are moving out of our lives, taking with
them, irreparably, the kind of information contained in this book.
They are taking it, not because they want to, but because they think
we don’t care.”
-Excerpt from Foxfire I
There are twelve volumes in the Foxfire series of books, and these are actually a compilation of articles that were published in the Foxfire magazine beginning in 1966. We talk about surviving dystopia on the show and the examples in these books tell of a life that the everyday way of doing things is what we nowadays might consider that “Dystopia.”
This series is close to my heart as in my writing I have a book that is taking forever to compile that is much the same, in this book I seek stories of the past to share with readers the thoughts and ponderings of the elderly. Seeking to not lose the knowledge of our grandparents and save it for future generations to marvel at, much as I did as a wide-eyed girl hanging on Gramma’s every word.
Sitting at the old metal kitchen table that had that nifty little side drawer in it. Many know the one I speak of…I think everyone’s gramma had one at one time. She would have her coffee and I would be fascinated with putting the clothes through the old wringer washer and popping off buttons… she would scold me that she had to now sew them back on. Looking sorry for my transgression yet secretly enjoying the way they shot off the shirt and pinged the walls I would try not to do it again. Further than this though was an education many have missed out on.
She would tell me of the days before the bathroom went in and I recall we as kids would sit in the apple trees and watch as my Mom and Aunt would gather the tomatoes with her for canning in the fall. I recall their hands would be all red from the acid in the tomatoes when they peeled them for the jars. After the canning was done all was set aside in the “cellar” which was little more than a dirt basement with shelves in it. Ever wonder why in a dirt basement? It had something to do with the adage “store in a cool dry place?”
I loved the smell of the cellar and now when I smell an earthy dirt cellar I have fond memories of canning in the fall. My grandmother gave me her recipe for piccalilli which is New England speak for green tomato relish. Since her passing I had not made this until maybe 15 years later. Sad I know but when I did I knew why I had not done so, that smell…it was Gramma’s house in the fall and now some 25 years after her death the thought of it still brings tears to my eyes. That day making her recipe I could almost close my eyes and see her in the kitchen with that great pot boiling away.
Thinking about it though it might be just such thoughts that will cost us this wealth of information. We should remember these things with joy and not sorrow. My mother has taught me so much and if I fail to pass it on to my children then someday it will be lost forever. I’m very much reminded of this in the view of Mary Cabe one such person in the foxfire series here she is testing the heat in her oven.
The Foxfire books are a close to what Gramma might have shared with us. Chock full of old timey information saved for generations to come.
This set of books is a wonderful series that every prepper should have. In just the first volume alone there is instruction about Hog dressing, building a log cabin, recipes, home remedies and more. The amazing thing is that each of the articles have been set into these books in an easy to find reference style with like articles grouped together
In further exploration of the books we will find ghost stories, spring wild plant foods, spinning and weaving, midwifing, burial customs, corn shuckin’s, wagon making, animal care, banjos and dulcimers, hide tanning, summer and fall wild plant foods, butter churns, ginseng, guy stuff and even toys. And of course just more affairs of plain living. The list goes on with a bounty of information about the “old” ways.
Get your own copy of the Foxfire books
and other great foxfire publications
Also check out DJ Cooper on Prepper Broadcasting every Wednesday night at 9pm Est on the show Surviving Dystopia