Ella Bernice on the Doerr family farm

My 93-year old grandmother is failing, and I’m flying to Illinois this weekend to see her, probably for the last time. I hate to lose her because I love her, and because she’s my one living connection to a generation of country badasses who knew how to make, build, grow, hunt, cook and preserve what they needed.  My grandparents taught my parents to do some of these things, and my parents taught me. Some of these skills will trickle down to Holly so she, too, will know how to clean fish and can peaches. She may not know what it's like to do these things to survive, but she’ll have the feeling of self-reliance that comes with knowing how. That feeling will get you through a lot of experiences that have nothing to do with fish and peaches.