In this wonderfully evocative volume, following the outstanding success of The Hornet's Nest, Christmas in Plains, and his classic, An Hour Before Daylight, Jimmy Carter writes about the things that matter most, the simple relaxed days and nights that he has enjoyed with family and friends through the years and across generations.
Here are lively and witty accounts of exploring the outdoors with his father and with black playmates; making furniture; painting; pursuing new adventures and going places with children, grandchildren, and friends. He describes how he learned to share life with his wife, Rosalynn -- and how they both learned how to grant each other personal space -- and to compete with her on the tennis court, high mountains, trout streams, and ski slopes.
These lifetime experiences can be an inspirational guide to anyone desiring to stretch mind and heart and to combine work and pleasure.
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Simon & Schuster
November 22, 2004
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Excerpt from Sharing Good Times by Jimmy Carter
A BOYHOOD IN ARCHERY
AS A LITTLE BOY, I lived within a protective cocoon, sharing all my experiences with other people. Our home was in an isolated farm community named Archery, and all our neighbors were black families. My father, Earl, was a hardworking producer of pine timber, corn, cotton, peanuts, pork, beef, milk, wool, and other agricultural products who tried to market everything possible at a retail level, directly to consumers. His income varied widely, depending on the weather or market values at harvesttime, both equally unpredictable. My mother, Lillian, served as a registered nurse, and her duties were either in the nearby Wise Sanitarium, where she was in charge of the operating room, or on private duty to patients in the hospital or in their own homes. Always on call, she knew in advance what her compensation should be: four dollars for twelve-hour duty in the hospital or six dollars for twenty-hour duty in homes. Her payment from most of the local families was always uncertain, rarely in cash and mostly in chickens, eggs, a shoat or two, or sometimes some highly flammable turpentine chips, with which we could most easily start fires for heating the house or cooking.
Since my parents were often away from home and I had little in common with my younger sisters, I spent most of my waking hours with my black playmates and their families. It seemed that our friendships were strengthened as we cooperated ýand competed ýwith one another. These earliest years were when I truly shared almost all aspects of my life with others.
As the wonders of the world were revealed to us, none were really complete until A.D., Johnny, Milton, Edmund, and I had absorbed them together. The struggle of a newborn mule colt to stand alone on wobbly legs, the opening eyes of a litter of puppies, the death throes of an enormous wharf rat that had eaten a bait of strychnine, a long string of catfish from the nearby creek, a ram mounting a compliant ewe, or a ride in a new goat cart had only partial meaning to us little children until we had shared the experience with each other. There had to be the proffering of individual opinions, a thorough discussion, and then some kind of consensus before we could add one more item to our store of knowledge. It was as though ten eyes and five brains were acting in concert. When the time came in our legally segregated society, I had to go to school exclusively with other white students, but I was always eager to return home to be with my closest and permanent friends.
I came to realize that my life, of necessity, would be compartmentalized, and I carved out some areas of interest or pleasure that would be almost exclusively my own. As an avid reader, I discovered a new and private world. My primary request to Santa Claus and as each birthday approached was for books, and I lost myself in them. Increasingly during the following years, I found that few of the elements of my school life were of interest to my playmates on the farm, but we still retained our close friendship and continued to spend afternoon hours during the school year and all day during vacations together.