You may remember Terry Burger from his growing up here and graduating from UGA, or from some of the pieces we’ve published by him from time to time, such as his hilarious account of standing naked on the front porch of his shack near here on Turkey Creek, firing his .22 rifle at a man with a knife. Which reminds me of another piece of his we published about his mother getting her hair done by a country stylist who shot at the squirrels in her bird feeder between rinses.
Terry is still living on a creek—Marsh Creek, on the fringes of the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania, the area he has inhabited for the last 30 years, not too far from where his parents grew up. After driving ambulances and trucks and jackhammers, Terry finally found steady work as a newspaper reporter in Gettysburg and stuck with it until his retirement a couple of years ago.
Terry gardens when he’s not writing and both endeavors lead him to reflect on the world around him, particularly the part focused around Marsh Creek. Now, he has collected some of his ruminations into a volume he has titled, The Year of the Moon Goose, as a tribute to the fowl that adopted him as a meal ticket.
These reflections are organized around the seasons of the year, beginning in winter, but they range all over, in time and place (and even include the piece about the deadeye beautician). There’s a lot about life on the creek, and there’s a lot about life in general. Terry has the writer’s temperament of thinking about things—mulling things over, and his book is a kind of mull itself; he has thrown in a lot of thought and experience and cooked it into a well seasoned melange.
It’s probably a good thing that Terry found that newspaper job, because it pushed him out into the world and got him off the porch overlooking the creek, where he probably would have been content to feed his goose and watch the raindrops make circles on the surface. What you get in The Year of the Moon Goose is the feeling of sitting on that porch with Terry, sheltered from a gentle rain, having a long, rambling conversation with a guy who thinks about things and sees connections among them, and they remind him of a funny story or a sad one, and he has the ability to let you share in his experiences and insights.
Of course there is a piece in here about his old pickup truck and about the carp in the creek and the barn cats and his mother-in-law’s green thumb. Just as we’re apt to do in conversation, Terry will start out writing about the rock he was trying to excavate from under his house and end up meditating on what it means to own property. Of course, the fact that he lives in the country and by a creek gives this book much of its flavor. A guy writing from the city is not going to observe nearly as many herons, eagles, squirrels and honeybees as Terry describes, not to mention the close attention to the seasons and what they mean for the garden. Even if Terry did live in New York City, though, he would still write a book filled with his thoughtful insights, because he’s just that kind of guy. The subway would inspire him as much as his truck.
Reading The Year of the Moon Goose is like visiting with Terry, but you can actually do that in person this Saturday, Apr. 27 from 2 p.m. — 3 p.m. at Avid Bookshop on Prince Avenue. Terry will be there signing his book, so you can get your own copy signed by the author and find out that he is just exactly the warm and thoughtful person you expected.
If you want a contrast to Moon Goose, get yourself over to the UGA Chapel at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 1 to hear Jeff Speck talk about his book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. He’ll be signing his books afterward at an Avid Bookshop reception upstairs Transmetropolitan downtown.