Bean Blossom Dreams

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Like many other city dwellers, television producer and writer Sallyann J. Murphey and her commercial photographer husband Greg Murphey had always had fantasies of living in a rural paradise. When they realized that they were both working seventy-hour weeks just to stay afloat in a city in which violence was coming, with great regularity, uncomfortably close to their four-year-old daughter, they decided it was time to turn their dreams into reality.

Inspired by their success in raising tomatoes in a ten-foot-square plot of land in the city, they resolved to make their new home somewhere that would lend itself to their repressed agricultural urges. They settled on forty-two acres of land, complete with lake and some twenty acres of woods, in Indiana’s Brown County, a beautiful area of rolling hills in a state that is notoriously flat.

BEAN BLOSSOM DREAMS tells the story of the difficulties and joys experienced by the Murpheys as they begin to understand what it takes to survive—not to mention thrive—in their new environment. They learn gradually, with the help of many of their new neighbors, how to do such things as raise poultry, grow vegetables and herbs, fend off voracious foxes and wild dogs, and handle recalcitrant farm equipment.

Although this kind of story has been told many times, Sallyann Murphey tells her story particularly well. Her book is both well written and casual, and she does a fine job of presenting the negative as well as the positive aspects of her newly chosen lifestyle.

The book has two excellent appendices: the first is a fifty-seven page section of recipes called “Food from the Farm Kitchen”; the second, “Herbal Recipes and Garden Plans,” contains recipes for such delightful products as spiced rose potpourri and rose petal beads as well as sections suggesting uses for garden-grown herbs and instructions on how to plan a garden for a child to tend.