River Hill Soliloquy
About the Book
River Hill country lies between the Rock and the Mississippi rivers in the northwest corner of Illinois. Within one of its valleys, the fields rise from the bottom lands to the hillsides. This region, which continues on into southwestern Wisconsin, could be termed the author’s “America.”
Clarence Mitchell writes about the small kingdom of 130 acres named River Hill. The farm has been the object of sustained interest and ongoing enthusiasm in “Mitch’s” life for half a century.
From his rampart on the hill, the author has seen fifty seasons of planting, cultivating, and harvesting on the land. He looks in wonderment as spring surges from the earth. He feels the somnolence of summer as it settles over the land. The pageantry of autumn is magic in his eyes, and he looks out over the pristine snow fields of deep winter.
The story, through narrative and anecdote, invites the reader to walk with the author over the earth of River Hill. Mitchell’s sense of history, coupled to his long association with landmarks, brings the intimacy and personality of each field into clear focus. Each field has its own chapter, its own story.
Accompany the author as he walks the mile of stream that flows through the farm; as he pauses besides the rapids and the placid stretches of water. Finally, he reaches “Land’s End,” the point of departure where the stream passes from his land.
The author is caught in the spell of the river. It has come a long distance to reach this place: it has flowed under bridges, passed through two villages, and coursed along lonely stretches of back country. From Land’s End, it travels toward a juncture with the Rock River that flows on to the Mississippi.
In the chapter, “Horses and People,” the rider is “up” a trappy, bold-going horse, riding loops of roads through the back country. He is exuberant as the mare quickens her gait to a rack, then goes into a closely held canter, and finally lifts to a high gallop as they enter the remaining stretch of dirt road.
Of the people who live along the road, some have become local legends, others are anachronisms in a modern age. All are interesting.
About the Author
Clarence Mitchell, born more than a century ago, recounted his adventures growing up in rural Illinois in his memoir, Diary of a Journeyman. He published another memoir of his experiences in Montana in Montana Montage. Mitchell, who became editorial-production director of Kable Brothers, was a staunch advocate for community colleges and libraries. Clarence died just after his 102nd birthday in 2009.