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Leaning into the Wind

A Memoir of Midwest Weather

2006
Author:

Susan Allen Toth

Leaning into the Wind

One of the Midwest’s best writers tackles our perennial favorite topic—the weather

Leaning into the Wind is a series of ten intimate essays in which Susan Allen Toth, who has spent most of her life in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, reveals the ways in which weather has challenged and changed her perceptions about herself and the world around her. She describes her ever-growing awareness of and appreciation for how the weather marks the major milestones of her life.

Most of the essays are lighthearted and include humorous musings on basements, weather words, and gardening. But she also ponders a higher order in life that she sees through the marvels of Midwestern weather.

Library Journal

Midwesterners love to talk about the weather, approaching the vagaries and challenges of extreme temperatures, deep snow, and oppressive humidity with good-natured complaining, peculiar pride, and communal spirit. Such a temperamental climate can at once terrify and disturb, yet offer unparalleled solace and peace.

Leaning into the Wind is a series of ten intimate essays in which Susan Allen Toth, who has spent most of her life in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, reveals the ways in which weather has challenged and changed her perceptions about herself and the world around her. She describes her ever-growing awareness of and appreciation for how the weather marks the major milestones of her life. Toth explores issues as large as weather and spirituality in “Who Speaks in the Pillar of Cloud?” and topics as small as a mosquito in “Things That Go Buzz in the Night.” In “Storms,” a severe thunderstorm becomes a continuing metaphor for the author’s troubled first marriage. Two essays, one from the perspective of childhood and one from late middle age, ponder how the weather seems different at various stages of life but always provides unexpected opportunities for self-discovery, change, and renewal.

The perfect entertainment for anyone who loved Toth’s previous books on travel and memoir, Leaning into the Wind offers engaging and personal insights on the delights and difficulties of Midwest weather.

Leaning into the Wind

Susan Allen Toth is the author of several books, including Blooming: A Small-Town Girlhood (1981), My Love Affair with England (1992), England As You Like It (1995), and England for All Seasons (1997). She has contributed to New York Times, Washington Post, Harper’s, and Vogue. She lives in Minneapolis.

Leaning into the Wind

Most of the essays are lighthearted and include humorous musings on basements, weather words, and gardening. But she also ponders a higher order in life that she sees through the marvels of Midwestern weather.

Library Journal

In this engaging book, Toth writes that weather marks the major milestones of our lives. It’s a good one.

Barbara Flanagan, Minneapolis Star Tribune

A series of 10 essays on how weather extremes that have accompanied Toth’s years living in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin have shaped her perceptions of herself and the world around her. For Toth, author of several well-known travel books and memoirs, weather offers the chance for deep reflection as well as simple delights and difficulties.

Minnesota Magazine

It is the connection between the weather and who we are that Susan Allen Toth explores in Leaning into the Wind, a collection of autobiographical essays on life and sunshine, windblown relationships, higher powers, and the ominous, Old Testament growl of a rising storm. She has an easy way of telling a story and a gift for capturing the colorful intensity of a moment.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

The strength of Leaning into the Wind is Toth’s ability to internalize the weather raging around her as a reflection on her personal life. Leaning into the Wind is a book I recommend for those who want to see weather from a different perspective. It will find a prominent place on my bookshelves.

The Weather Doctor

Toth’s talent for honest, direct expression is on full display. Leaning into the Wind provides for enjoyable and sometimes thoughtful reading about midwestern experience.

Annals of Iowa

She weaves together stories of her upbringing, child-rearing, and urban life with observations that include wind, rain, and cold. There may not be enough glorification to get displaced midwesterners to move back, but there is more than enough to suggest expanding our span of observation, wherever we live.

Bloomsbury Review

Leaning into the Wind

Contents

A Note to Other Midwesterners
Leaning into the Wind
The Weather Was Full of Promise
Other Weather, Other Places
Storms
Down in the Basement
A Window on the Weather
Weather Words
Things That Go Buzz in the Night
A Cold-Blooded Woman
Garden Weather
The Weather Doesn’t Grow Old
Who Speaks in the Pillar of Cloud?