CORVALLIS - A moving portrayal of ordinary country life in contemporary Oregon, with all of its rewards and demands, is the focus of a new book of essays published by the Oregon State University Press.

"Peace at Heart: An Oregon Country Life," was written by Barbara Drake, a poet who sold her Portland home in the late 1980s and moved to a small farm in Yamhill County.

Drake's essays touch on birthing lambs, raising geese, keeping bees and making wine, and combine humor with a respect for the work and the land, according to Tom Booth, marketing manager for the OSU Press.

Home for Drake became a modest white home, an old red barn, and her own small vineyard. Wrote Drake of her new life: "Animals and plants, seasons and weather, all make demands on our attention."

Her observations on day-to-day life capture the often-overlooked joys of ordinary country experiences, from her love of border collies to dealing with the rain.

Award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin praised "Peace at Heart," saying it offers readers something rare and cherished - "an honest description of happiness."

"This meditation on farm and countryside is a sweetly accurate, unpretentiously subtle portrait of a real place and people living there," wrote Le Guin.

Drake is a professor of English at Linfield College in McMinnville. Author of a popular textbook called "Writing Poetry," she also has written several volumes of poetry, including "What We Say to Strangers." An essay called "Wild Apples," from her new book, has been selected for an anthology called "American Nature Writing 1999," edited by John Murray.

"Peace at Heart" is available at book stores and libraries, or can be ordered by calling 1-800-426-3797.

The book signals a new direction for the OSU Press, which plans to publish more creative non-fiction books, especially by Northwest authors writing about nature, Booth said.

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Tom Booth, 503-282-9801