The Great American Road Trip
Destination: New Hampshire
Book: The Good, Good Pig:The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood, by Sy Montgomery.
Where would we be without librarians? While New England teems with good writing, going back to colonial days, I wanted something contemporary for our visit to New Hampshire. Susan Reiner, a reader who lives in that state, contacted her local librarians and they suggested a book about a pig.
Should New Hampshirites be insulted? Heavens, no. Christopher Hogwood, star of this show, is a [amazon_link id="0345496094" target="_blank" ]The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood[/amazon_link]. While Montgomery educates us about the porcine life–
piglets gain as much as five pounds a day–
the book tells us about a lot of good, good people in the small town and among the community of people who cared about Christopher.
Pigs are generally turned into pork chops by the time they are six months, so she was not sure how long a well-cared for pig would live.
Sy Montgomery described in the Boston Globe as “part Indiana Jones and part Emily Dickinson” writes about animals and nature for magazines like National Geographic, crafts documentaries, and she writes books for children. Her study of animals takes her to interesting places–far too interesting for the more timid traveler like me. She travels to an area teeming with tigers in India, to the bug-ridden Amazon, and cavorts with elephants and emus in the wild.
Her training and her belief that she is more closely related to non-humans than to humans, makes her the perfect person to explain why we should love a pig–specifically the lovable Christopher.
Much is made of the intelligence of pigs, but the author failed to convince me.
Pigs have roughly the same intelligence as dogs.
Yes, he is an escape artist. Montgomery and the girls next door catalogue the various sounds he makes and believe that he greets different people with different tones and types of communication.
Montgomery and her husband, both writers, live on a property with a barn, although it is not a full-fledged farm. The have a flock of chickens, called the Ladies, and soon after Christopher arrives they adopt an injured border collie. That is the limit of their livestock.
A bunch of pigs is called a drift.
Although the book concentrates on describing animals,human and otherwise, rather than dwelling on the landscape, Montgomery’s way with words brings us poetic treats like this:
It was the last day of August–an achingly beautiful, golden day when the air throbbed with cricket song and buzzed with dragonfly wings and smelled like ripening apples.
She writes with a directness and charm that seem just perfect when talking about small town New Hampshire–whose name, after all, starts with ham. Christopher, like his owner, is a vegetarian–but for a different reason (Sorry, you’ll have to read the book!)
Thanks, Susan and New Hampshire librarians for a good, good read– and it DOES make me want to go to New Hampshire.
Take a look at Music Roads for some music by a New Hampshire native to slip into your CD as you travel to New Hampshire.
Is there a famous literary animal who hails from your state or country? Tell us the story.