Everybody has a story to tell.
Some like Franklin Sanders have been blessed with the ability to tell their awesome journey with a purpose.
“Life happens; later you figure out what it means.”
That’s what At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is all about.
This three volume collection of personal letters that Franklin Sanders wrote to his “dear readers” of The Moneychanger newsletter is a unique, funny, and very real look into 16 years of the life journey of the Sanders family. He wrote the letters not as a “memoir to look back on events and impose some kind of meaning after the fact”, but as a “recounting of family news”.
He let life itself add the experience, wisdom and faith.
For review, I received a softcover copy of At Home in Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats. $22.95 The 379 pages cover from June 1995 to September 2002 chronicling their move from city life to farmlife in Dogwood Mudhole, Tennessee.
Volume Two: Best Thing We Ever Did is also now available with Volume Three to follow.
Meet the Sanders family: Franklin and Susan, and their seven children Liberty, Justin, Worth, Wright, Christian, Mercy, and Zachariah.
Along the way we also meet in-laws, grandchildren, grandparents, lots of friends both old and new, and many, many family dogs, and other pets/farm residents/livestock and such (especially chickens, lol).
The book being a compilation of chronological writings for his newsletter gives it a delightful, conversational feel of everyday happenings, emotions, thoughts and dreams, births, deaths, broken arms, struggles and celebrations, much like reading a personal journal or blog.
We become familiar with the family’s love of history, specifically the Civil War, which Mr. Franklin prefers to call the War for Southern Independence. We journey with them as they participate in reenactments, cemetery walk-throughs, visits to battlegrounds, and the Confederate ball.
In addition to their rich love for history, they are living in a time when the mystery and unknown of Y2K was a challenge to prepare for. They share their preparations, thoughts and decisions with their readers as they move closer to the turn of the century.
Dogs and chickens is a common theme running throughout, as well as gardening and farm-life in general. As the family converts from city-life to country-life, they share the whole spectrum of adventures from tragedy to the sweet joy of connecting with their own little piece of God’s world.
We read about Mr. Franklin’s gold and silver business, and his standing up for his constitutional rights, landing him in jail.
The geography and southern charm of Middle Tennessee and the surrounding areas are described to a “t”, down to the addresses of the most amazing places to eat, sleep and visit.
Relationships with friends, in-laws, and acquaintances leave you feeling a sense of warmth, and sometimes laughing out loud.
This book is about family, love, and life. Throughout the pages are scriptures intertwined into the adventures. Life lessons. Real life lessons captioned by scripture, prose and poetry. From learning to raise and doctor their animals, to growing gardens, to building and constructing new inventions, to working the land that God gave them while relishing in the growth of new life-both human and non-human, At Home in Dogwood Mudhole captures the very essence and charm of appreciating all God has given us.
Throughout the pages are also pictures of the family, giving us an even more personal journey as if we are a part of their family.
My Favorite Parts
Wow, where to start. I guess I will begin by saying I can relate to this family’s journey both in their move to country life and to the place they call home.
My immediate family all transplanted to Middle Tennessee, with me following after my graduation from veterinary school. My goal, much like the Sanders family, was to eventually end up with my own farm full of animals, gardens and room for kids to run wild.
While my story is different, much of it is the same. I found many little snippets in the pages of this book that brought back so many memories. To begin with, the book starts just as my husband and I were beginning our life in Middle Tn, and progresses to the next year when my first daughter was born. We explored many of the very same places that were mentioned in the book, and even cut down a cedar tree to bring inside for our Christmas tree, just as the Sanders family did. 🙂
Of course I loved reading about their many family dog adventures, and related all-to-well to their chicken woes. I loved their “learning curve” as it brought about much recognition of similar and sometimes exact same experiences. I love reading Mr. Sanders thought processes, his evaluation and personal feelings on things, as well as the way he and his family went about handling both hard times and good times.
It’s always interesting to me to discover how others utilize what they have to make things work. From doctoring animals to husbandry practices to fixing broken equipment, if farm life is your life, there’s nothing you can’t do.
While our family’s little piece of farm-heaven is in Texas now, Tennessee will always have a place in my heart. My daughters were both born there, and my parents and brothers and their families still live there. I have gained a new nostalgic feeling from reading this book, and just love the feeling that I just got back from a trip home where I met some new friends.
From Tennessee to the farm life, At Home in Dogwood Mudhole and the Sanders family also have a warm and fuzzy place in my heart. I will certainly be reading the next two volumes (I’m currently on my second trip through the first volume), and on my next visit “home” to Tennessee, I’m gonna take a trip down to Dogwood Mudhole to see it for myself.
To read my Crew Mates’ reviews of At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, click the banner!
Enjoy Your Journey,