Middle-Aged Spread: Moving to the Country at 50
by Sonia Day

Key Porter Books Limited, 2009. ISBN 978-1-554-70193-3.
Reviewed by Linda Hoye
Posted on 04/03/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment

Have you ever longed to leave the stress of the city and head for a quiet and simpler life in the country? "Get to the fifty mark and those two little words, real estate (and especially country real estate) take on an irresistible ring." says Sonia Day.

Day was on an errand one afternoon and driving down a country road when she first glimpsed the "Victorian lady of modest means, now fallen on hard times but still standing rather proudly on the brow of her gentle hill. Mysterious, yet welcoming." She knew instantly that she was going to live in that house.

The book is a light-hearted look at their first year in the country when city girl Sonia and her somewhat reluctant husband, referred to as Logbook Man, spontaneously decide to leave the city.

Prominent in the story is the first Canadian country winter. Day finds herself alone in the Victorian lady when the first big storm of the season blows in. The next day the sun shines "...the brightness after the gloom of yesterday is exhilarating. It's the best thing about Canadian winters, this brightness, so uplifting to the spirit after a storm."

I had to laugh out loud when Day's new country friend called and asked if she wanted her husband to "come by and give you a blow." Day is intrigued by the offer and says "whatever a blow is, I can't wait for this big muscular guy with the booming voice to come over and deliver it, I'm so exhausted from digging myself." (A "blow" is country talk for using a snow-blower to clear the snow.)

Day and Logbook Man survive that first winter and when spring arrives, so does Stoob the Mennonite contractor to begin work on restoring the Victorian lady back to her previous splendor. What follows are entertaining vignettes of country life filled with colorful characters as we follow the couple through the rest of that first year.

The final chapter, written seven years after they left the city, illustrates just how much the country has changed them. There are also some delicious looking recipes at the end.

Sonia Day is a gardening columnist for the Toronto Star and the author of The Plant Doctor, The Urban Gardener Indoors, and The Complete Urban Gardener. For eight years, she wrote a humour column for Canadian Gardening. Her little watercolors are well-known in Toronto. Visit her website.

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