“Not even a potful of lettuces?” I asked, thinking of the preceding summer, when she’d grown more lettuces than she and Dad could eat, and wound up giving much of the produce away to me and my salad-loving crew.
“Not even,” she replied.
So I dug out all the soil and hauled it all home, where it now nurtures several new vines on the south wall of the house, and adds its good character to amend the skin-flint soil in the herb bed to the north of the kitchen door. Good soil is never a waste of time to haul home.
After I’d dug in the new canes, I stood back to evaluate my own patch – a modest and unsheltered affair, open to the ravages of the west wind, devoid of the irrigation system Dad had labouriously installed in their patch in town. Remember to water it more regularly, I told myself. But I didn’t, and all summer, my raspberries were small thimbles, far removed from the thumb-print-sized berries I’d picked in Mom’s garden for years.
Mom’s a natural-born gardener, with green thumbs on both hands. She’s tended a garden patch of one sort or another all her life – as a mother of five hungry kids, as a field boss in a busy truck garden on Vancouver Island, and as a market gardener who took her produce to the farmer’s market in Saskatoon. True to her Depression-era raising, she has always frozen all her gardens’ provender, putting food by for winter before she eats any fresh. Next year, as I have this summer, I will bring salad greens and vegetables to her and Dad. And maybe, if I remember to water more faithfully, fresh raspberries.
“Bread & Water is an emotionally arresting, beautifully written series of essays.”
~ Jurors’ Citation, Saskatchewan Book Awards, University of Saskatchewan President’s Office Nonfiction Award
“Food is a wonderful agent for storytelling... and Bread & Water demonstrates this brilliantly.”
~ Sarah Ramsey, starred review, Quill & Quire
“[Bread & Water is] An amazing feast... riveting... eloquent.”
~ Patricia D. Robertson, Winnipeg Free Press
“[Bread & Water is a] sensuous experience; she brings her poet’s eye and ear to everything within her purview.”
~ Professor emerita Kathleen Wall, Blue Duets
“A deep love of the art of cooking that includes the language of fine dining (cassoulet, confit) even if the lamb was raised in Olds and she picked the rhubarb herself... she impressively manages this collision of worlds with a wholesome, approachable style.”
~ Megan Clark, Alberta Views
“These finely focussed poems [in Wildness Rushing In] invite us into a sensuous and emotionally rich landscape.”
~ Don McKay, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize
“The writing [in Wildness Rushing In] is honed and textured, the senses so alive that you can practically taste the language. There are moments of brilliance rare in a first book.”
~ Jurors’ Citation, Saskatchewan Book Awards
“dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s stories [in What Can’t Be Undone] are written with a poetic edge. Her descriptions, particularly western landscapes, are often luxurious, lending themselves a kind of nuanced impression, a delicate fingerprint on the reader’s mind. "
~ Lee Kvern, Alberta Views
“[Foodshed is] A rich encyclopedia of facts, farm-gate lore and original recipes... a politically engaging narrative in which Hobsbawn-Smith articulates the challenges and joys faced by small-scale producers... don’ t let the alphabet theme fool you. This is no tame nursery rhyme; it is a locavore call to arms.”
~ P.D. Robertson, The Globe & Mail