I'm so intrigued by how the entire book was woven around a skeleton formed by several dimensions of time: seasons, crops, generations, and human mortality. The element of time was suggested by everything about the book -- the photos, Hiroko's beautiful pen-and-ink drawings, the nature of the recipes, the inclusion of bits from the various generations. I was always aware of time, which gave the book -- or at least this reader -- a sense of urgency, an awareness of the passage of time, assuaged by a comforting reminder of the circle of immortality, the timelessness of the Earth. This book made me want to DO.
I loved the interspersing of different styles. A description of planting garlic leads naturally to the recipe for "Pockets full of garlic soup", and thence to musings about the importance of timing, overlayered with rueful complaints about aching, aging knees in contrast to those of Kazami, "a compact, curly-headed, 13-year-old package of fearless life force hurtling down the hillside on a blur of bicycle". Later, scholarly discussions of the enduring dangers of chemical fertilizers (the author's father is an environmental geneticist) are woven into an attempt to capture the meaning of wabi-sabi, a Japanese Zen concept that the author relates to rural community life, thanking the hens for their eggs, and macabre stories told to grandchildren to make them behave.
This is a particularly good book to give as a gift. It is wonderful to use for morning meditations (especially since it's laid out chronologically over a year). It's very funny, and thoughtful, and loving. I've given this book to many, and treasure my own.