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Evening Country by Daniel Paul Thomas
Essays of the author's journey into evening country.

Mr. Thomas was raised in Willows, California. He received his B.A. from Chico State University and an M.A. in counseling education from San Jose State University. He has been a teacher, counselor, and a secondary school principal. Much of his career was spent in the Bay Area, but it was the Sacramento Valley that bred within him an enduring love for nature.

Mr. Thomas has always put this love for nature high on his list of priorities. As a teacher he used natureís gifts, so abundantly available beyond the classroom door, to motivate his students to learn.

Upon his retirement he returned to the valley. His search for a place that might provide some well earned solitude, while allowing him the opportunity to share his love for the land with his wife, ended at a place he now calls "The Ten."

Thomas' other popular books, Essays from the Ten (his first title), 100 Miles, and Pastiche: An Essayist in Search of a Theme are also published by Stansbury Publishing.

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Summers in this valley are sometimes blistering. Morning is the time of day to get outdoor work done because by afternoon the heat makes most manual labor impossible. For me, anyway. Thatís why evenings are so special. The fading light tints the land in a way that lends relief to the harshness of the day and draws forth the sweet aroma of summer grasses, shrubs, and leafy trees.

I call this place, this time, and this state of mind, evening country.

The following essays reflect a range of insights and experiences I have enjoyed (or not) while living on ten acres nestled in the heart of Northern Californiaís orchard country. When we purchased the property over fifteen years ago it was mostly treeless, except for an area adjacent to the house and a small almond orchard. The property had been vacant and neglected for years. Its most endearing quality at the time was a seasonal creek which sliced through the propertyís northern boundary. In the ensuing years my wife and I have worked hard to make these acres, which we now affectionately call "The Ten," a hospitable place for all the creatures, wild or domesticated, that call this place home. What Iíve tried to establish is a dialog about the forces that contribute to our becoming what we are, or are not. In conducting this dialog I have tried to be a reliable narrator because I understand that honesty is central to the heart of the personal essay. James Baldwin was once quoted as saying, "I want to be an honest man and a good writer." Note the sequence,

Honesty precedes Writer.

I am in the evening of my life and feel compelled to get it right.

Perhaps that is what these essays are really about. They serve as a measure of my existence, to ask the ultimate question: Am I getting it right?

My life continues to be an essay in progress.

Enjoy your journey into evening country,

I am.

--Daniel

From foreword to Evening Country.

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