Part memoir, part social history, this collection of ten essays explores the various physical and natural elements that form the backdrop to Braun's memories of growing up mid-20th century on a farm in southern Manitoba. From blackboard chalk to curling rocks in the chapter on stone, from mirages to straight-line winds in the essay on light and air, she reflects on her interactions with the elements as a child and how her responses influenced her evolution into adulthood. Braun includes intriguing tidbits about the science and history behind each element as it pertains to life in her unique location on our planet. The book highlights the value and beauty of the simple components of our surroundings that we take for granted growing up, exposes their true complexity, and reveals how the fascination with a "simple" thing can become a lifelong pursuit that sustains one's artistic and spiritual needs.
LOIS BRAUN grew up in a Mennonite community in southern Manitoba and taught elementary school in Altona until her retirement. She has written four critically acclaimed collections of short fiction, including A Stone Watermelon, which was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award, and The Penance Drummer, which received the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. She is currently a freelance editor and volunteers for local arts- and history-related committees and events. Having lived most of her life on farms, she now resides in Altona with her husband Joe and a cat called Graydi.
"Peculiar Lessons is the kind of book to read at leisure and to absorb slowly." - Canada's History