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“Going Out Green”

by Bob Butz

c.2009, Spirituality & Health Books

You know it’s impossible – it’s a piece of ground, for Heaven’s sake – but your garden almost looks sad. A few dried plants are bent over in the middle. One or two missed tomatoes lie on the ground, half-melted into the soil. You almost want to plant something just to cheer it up.

But wait. Be careful what you wish for. There’s one final thing to plant, but you’ll want to wait a long time. Read more in “Going Out Green,” by Bob Butz.

When Bob Butz’s editor asked him how he’d feel about writing a book on planning a “green” burial, he knew that refusal was impossible. Heather was the kind of woman who “tends to be unaccustomed to men resisting her advances.”

Butz was given three months to plan his own funeral, and the advance (money a writer is paid up front) was small, the time frame even smaller. But, what writer could resist that challenge? After all, most funerals are pulled together in three days, under duress. And most of them are not “green.”

Less than 100 years ago, Butz points out, we were a society relatively accustomed to death. It was common for a family to care for their own when someone died, without help (or interference) from a professional and without the “ick” factor. Coffins weren’t made of exotic wood or gold-plated hardware, few, if any, chemicals were involved and it was all a whole lot cheaper.

Remembering his own father’s funeral, Bob Butz began to realize that natural burial, or interment, as it was done a century ago, was somewhat appealing, in a strange way. Intrigued, excited, and challenged, he started digging. Literally.

He asked around to see if he could help (or just watch) someone excavate a grave. He inquired about autopsies and discovered a few things that happen when we die. With a hunter’s eye toward living and dying, he unearthed facts about death in other cultures, as well as attitudes in our own society. He found “green” coffins, spoke with a caretaker for a green cemetery, and met a “death midwife,” who – much like a birth midwife brings a child into the world – ushers someone’s child out.

Okay, this might sound a little macabre, but “Going Out Green” is a fun book to read, as well as being helpful and informative. Butz has a keen sense of the absurd, he doesn’t offer stomach-turning, ghastly details, and he’s willing to keep this subject light.

In the meantime, he lets us learn that cremation really isn’t “green.” It’s easy to find instructions on building your own pine (or any kind of wood) box. Stone memorials don’t guarantee memories. Laws vary differently between states, and you probably can’t just plant Aunt Jane in the garden she loved.

While one could argue that nobody wants to think about dying, it’s also a fact that we do. So if you’re looking for a quirky book on this serious topic, grab “Going Out Green,” and then plant yourself in a chair and enjoy.

“Spoon”

by Robert Greer

c.2009, Fulcrum Books

Ask your mother, and she’d probably say it was one of your favorite words. From the time you were old enough to talk, she heard it plenty enough: “Mine!” Everything was yours. If it belonged to someone else, it was yours. Even if you didn’t want it, it was yours.

You eventually grew out of that phase (more or less), but though your grown-up sensibilities recognize that possessions are just things, you still protect them. To what lengths would you go to ensure the safety of your stuff? In the new novel ,“Spoon” by Robert Greer, a ranching family gets help in preserving a generations-old way of life from a tumbleweed, just passin’ through.

The first time TJ Darley saw him, he was walking along the Interstate with no boots. Arcus Witherspoon, or just Spoon, had lost his footwear in a poker game, on the way to searching for his roots. Half black, half Crow or Cheyenne or something, Spoon needed to know his kin.

It just so happened that the Darleys needed help. The Willow Creek Ranch couldn’t run itself, and Marva Darley wanted her son to go to college up in Missoula, come next winter. Bill Darley agreed, though he wanted to pass the ranch on to TJ, just as his own father did for him.

Although Bill Darley resisted having a hired man, Spoon stepped up to the challenge, moved into the bunkhouse and quickly made himself useful. Perhaps because of his ancestors, Spoon had The Charm, which meant he could see things into the future. That was handy for the Darleys, because what Spoon saw that early fall of 1992 was trouble.

Willow Creek Ranch, as well as several other spreads in the valley, was sitting on one of the biggest coal deposits in the country. Acota, a major company with a bottomless bank account, wanted the rights to mine what was beneath the pastures, but most of the ranchers weren’t willing to ruin their beloved land, but Acota wasn’t willing to take “No,” for an answer.

As tensions increase, the Darleys lean on Spoon’s knowledge and he leans on their friendship. But time is running out.

I had my doubts about this book when I first started it. An African American cowpoke is relatively rare in a western novel, but that wasn’t what gave me pause. What I wasn’t so sure about was this psychic “charming” ability of the main character. As it turned out, it was a small facet of the book that paled in comparison to the rest of the story.

Greer’s “Spoon” is a tad on the predictable side, which is, oddly enough, just what you want in a western. Despite that it’s a modern setting, his bad guys are tough hombres, his good guys are insightful, the hosses are smart, the ladies are purty, the ending is just right and I liked it.

If you’re looking for comfort reading on a chilly weekend, this is one to grab. Sit yourself down and get yourself a “Spoon”-ful.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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