unit 1 Mr. Doherty Builds His Dream Life
In America many people have a romantic idea of life in the countryside. Many living in towns dream of starting up their own farm, of living off the land. Few get round to putting their dreams into practice. This is perhaps just as well, as the life of a farmer is far from easy, as Jim Doherty discovered when he set out to combine being a writer with running a farm. Nevertheless, as he explains, he has no regrets and remains enthusiastic about his decision to change his way of life.
Mr. Doherty Builds His Dream Life
1 There are two things I have always wanted to do -- write and live on a farm. Today I'm doing both. I am not in E. B. White's class as a writer or in my neighbors' league as a farmer, but I'm getting by. And after years of frustration with city and suburban living, my wife Sandy and I have finally found contentment here in the country.
2 It's a self-reliant sort of life. We grow nearly all of our fruits and vegetables. Our hens keep us in eggs, with several dozen left over to sell each week. Our bees provide us with honey, and we cut enough wood to just about make it through the heating season.
3 It's a satisfying life too. In the summer we canoe on the river, go picnicking in the woods and take long bicycle rides. In the winter we ski and skate. We get excited about sunsets. We love the smell of the earth warming and the sound of cattle lowing. We watch for hawks in the sky and deer in the cornfields.
4 But the good life can get pretty tough. Three months ago when it was 30 below, we spent two miserable days hauling firewood up the river on a sled. Three months from now, it will be 95
above and we will be cultivating corn, weeding strawberries and killing chickens. Recently, Sandy and I had to retile the back roof. Soon Jim, 16 and Emily, 13, the youngest of our four children, will help me make some long-overdue improvements on the outdoor toilet that supplements our indoor plumbing when we are working outside. Later this month, we'll spray the orchard, paint the barn, plant the garden and clean the hen house before the new chicks arrive.
5 In between such chores, I manage to spend 50 to 60 hours a week at the typewriter or doing reporting for the freelance articles I sell to magazines and newspapers. Sandy, meanwhile, pursues her own demanding schedule. Besides the usual household routine, she oversees the garden and beehives, bakes bread, cans and freezes, drives the kids to their music lessons, practices with them, takes organ lessons on her own, does research and typing for me, writes an article herself now and then, tends the flower beds, stacks a little wood and delivers the eggs. There is, as the old saying goes, no rest for the wicked on a place like this -- and not much for the virtuous either. 在这些活计之间，我每周要抽空花五、六十个小时，不是打字撰文，就是为作为自由撰稿人投给报刊的文章进行采访。桑迪则有她自己繁忙的工作日程。除了日常的家务，她还照管菜园和蜂房，烘烤面包，将食品装罐、冷藏，开车送孩子学音乐，和他们一起练习，自己还要上风琴课，为我做些研究工作并打字，自己有时也写写文章，还要侍弄花圃，堆摞木柴、运送鸡蛋。正如老话说的那样，在这种情形之下，坏人不得闲――贤德之人也歇不了。
6 None of us will ever forget our first winter. We were buried under five feet of snow from December through March. While one storm after another blasted huge drifts up against the house and barn, we kept warm inside burning our own wood, eating our own apples and loving every minute of it.
7 When spring came, it brought two floods. First the river overflowed, covering much of our land for weeks. Then the growing season began, swamping us under wave after wave of produce. Our freezer filled up with cherries, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, peas, beans and corn. Then our canned-goods shelves and cupboards began to grow with preserves, tomato juice, grape juice, plums, jams and jellies. Eventually, the basement floor disappeared under piles of potatoes, squash and pumpkins, and the barn began to fill with apples and pears. It was amazing.
8 The next year we grew even more food and managed to get through the winter on firewood that was mostly from our own trees and only 100 gallons of heating oil. At that point I began thinking seriously about quitting my job and starting to freelance. The timing was terrible. By then, Shawn and Amy, our oldest girls were attending expensive Ivy League schools and we had only a few thousand dollars in the bank. Yet we kept coming back to the same question: Will there ever be a better time? The answer, decidedly, was no, and so -- with my employer's blessings and half a year's pay in accumulated benefits in my pocket -- off I went.
9 There have been a few anxious moments since then, but on balance things have gone much better than we had any right to expect. For various stories of mine, I've crawled into black-bear dens for Sports Illustrated, hitched up dogsled racing teams for Smithsonian magazine, checked out the Lake Champlain "monster" for Science Digest, and canoed through the Boundary Waters wilderness area of Minnesota for Destinations.
10 I'm not making anywhere near as much money as I did when I was employed full time, but now we don't need as much either. I generate enough income to handle our $600-a-month mortgage payments plus the usual expenses for a family like ours. That includes everything from music lessons and dental bills to car repairs and college costs. When it comes to insurance, we have a poor man's major-medical policy. We have to pay the first $500 of any medical fees for each member of the family. It picks up 80% of the costs beyond that. Although we are stuck with paying minor expenses, our premium is low -- only $560 a year -- and we are covered against catastrophe. Aside from that and the policy on our two cars at $400 a year, we have no other insurance. But we are setting aside $2,000 a year in an IRA.
11 We've been able to make up the difference in income by cutting back without appreciably lowering our standard of living. We continue to dine out once or twice a month, but now we
patronize local restaurants instead of more expensive places in the city. We still attend the opera and ballet in Milwaukee but only a few times a year. We eat less meat, drink cheaper wine and see fewer movies. Extravagant Christmases are a memory, and we combine vacations with story assignments...
12 I suspect not everyone who loves the country would be happy living the way we do. It takes a couple of special qualities. One is a tolerance for solitude. Because we are so busy and on such a tight budget, we don't entertain much. During the growing season there is no time for socializing anyway. Jim and Emily are involved in school activities, but they too spend most of their time at home.
13 The other requirement is energy -- a lot of it. The way to make self-sufficiency work on a small scale is to resist the temptation to buy a tractor and other expensive laborsaving devices. Instead, you do the work yourself. The only machinery we own (not counting the lawn mower) is a little three-horsepower rotary cultivator and a 16-inch chain saw.
14 How much longer we'll have enough energy to stay on here is anybody's guess -- perhaps for quite a while, perhaps not. When the time comes, we'll leave with a feeling of sorrow but also with a sense of pride at what we've been able to accomplish. We should make a fair profit on the sale of the place, too. We've invested about $35,000 of our own money in it, and we could just about double that if we sold today. But this is not a good time to sell. Once economic conditions improve, however, demand for farms like ours should be strong again.
15 We didn't move here primarily to earn money though. We came because we wanted to improve the quality of our lives. When I watch Emily collecting eggs in the evening, fishing with Jim on the river or enjoying an old-fashioned picnic in the orchard with the entire family, I know we've found just what we were looking for.
unit 2 The Freedom Givers
In 2004 a center in honor of the "underground railroad" opens in Cincinnati. The railroad was unusual. It sold no tickets and had no trains. Yet it carried thousands of passengers to the destination of their dreams.
The Freedom Givers
Fergus M. Bordewich
1 A gentle breeze swept the Canadian plains as I stepped outside the small two-story house. Alongside me was a slender woman in a black dress, my guide back to a time when the surrounding settlement in Dresden, Ontario, was home to a hero in American history. As we walked toward a plain gray church, Barbara Carter spoke proudly of her great-great-grandfather, Josiah Henson. "He was confident that the Creator intended all men to be created equal. And he never gave up struggling for that freedom."
2 Carter's devotion to her ancestor is about more than personal pride: it is about family honor. For Josiah Henson has lived on through the character in American fiction that he helped inspire: Uncle Tom, the long-suffering slave in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. Ironically, that character has come to symbolize everything Henson was not. A racial sellout unwilling to stand up for himself? Carter gets angry at the thought. "Josiah Henson was a man of principle," she said firmly.
3 I had traveled here to Henson's last home -- now a historic site that Carter formerly directed -- to learn more about a man who was, in many ways, an African-American Moses. After winning his own freedom from slavery, Henson secretly helped hundreds of other slaves to escape north to Canada -- and liberty. Many settled here in Dresden with him.