What do we keep and why do we keep it? If something is worth keeping, how do we go about preserving...
What do we keep and why do we keep it? If something is worth keeping, how do we go about preserving it? These are the questions Peter Svenson addresses in Preservation, a moving and eloquent meditation on the idea of preservation, public and private, natural and historical.Svenson, an abstract artist and the author of the critically acclaimed Battlefield: Farming a Civil War Battleground, lives on and farms a field that was the site of a Civil War battle in Virginia. He begins Preservation with the impulse to preserve the battlefield and other Civil War monuments, questioning what is being memorialized both physically and morally, and pointing out that how we choose to memorialize something is as important as what we choose to remember about it.He then moves to the idea of saving the farmland surrounding his own - land that, without intervention, will probably be sold for development within the next generation. He describes his struggles to maintain his fields without the use of chemicals and to painstakingly refurbish old farm implements. At the same time, he brings the ambivalence of his neighbors toward the historical and financial demands of their property into sharp focus.Interspersed throughout is a memoir of Svenson's New England boyhood in which he evokes and thereby preserves his best self at a variety of ages and contemplates how these selves are incorporated into - or missing from - the middle-aged man he is today.Graceful, impassioned, and personal, Preservation is a call to all of us to appreciate what needs to be preserved in the world and in the self.