We’ve had the sharp-quilled beasts in our neighbourhood ever since our arrival here on the farm nearly eight years ago, and my mom has regaled me often enough with tales of pulling quills from multiple dogs’ muzzles during her many years in residence. Recently, Jake, our golden retriever, not a barky dog, stared pointedly at the deck railing, then at me, then back at the railing. An intrepid porky perched there, then scrambled onto the Manitoba maple that overlooks the south deck. The next morning, the creature was gone, and so was a lot of the bark from the lower girdle of the tree.
A few days later, while I worked upstairs in my studio in the early evening just as the sun was setting, the silence was interrupted by an unfamiliar series of noises somewhere between a cat’s meow and a ewok’s squeak. Flashlight in hand, I stepped outside onto the upper balcony. Nothing out of the ordinary. But then I spotted two unusual lumps in the nearby maple tree, a particularly gnarly tree that my grandfather had planted as part of a windbreak in 1946.
The following days, with no sign of the courting couple, I took Jake outside and we had a closer look at the trees overhanging the fenced back yard where Jake chases tennis balls and plastic rings. The branches of several large trees – including the maple where the porcupines had balanced themselves – had been denuded; the trees’ second layer, the cambium, gleamed in the sunlight like polished alabaster.
“She’d never have made it past the first round of Canadian Idol, but there was a certain raffish charm to her vocal stylings, reminiscent of a torch singer like Billie Holliday scatting, or maybe Sarah Vaughn warming up.”
“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