Many of my favorite books are stories of transformation. They are about people who begin a journey one way and emerge at the end completely altered. Through tests and trials, hardships and happy coincidences, they discover their true selves and a new way of living. The story of the Beekman Boys is just such a tale.
The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers is the excellent and hilariously funny story of how advertising exec, Josh Kilmer-Purcell, and physician, Brent Ridge, went from being elegant urbanites to equally-elegant, yet rubber-booted, country farmers.
In October 2006, our heroes left their home in Manhattan for an apple-picking weekend in upstate New York. A menacing spider on the loose in their vehicle persuaded them to pull off the road and they found themselves in a modern-day Brigadoon — the historic village of Sharon Springs.
Once a bustling spa town in the 1800’s, it was no longer in its heyday, but Brent and Josh found much to love — a picture postcard main street, historic architecture, and a grand old-lady of a hotel waiting to welcome them in. The owners of the hotel, sporting kilts and a friendly demeanor, provided lodging for the night and one of the best meals they had ever eaten. A cozy fire, good food and the magic of Sharon Springs were working their charms.
Their discovery, the next morning, of a stately Georgian home known as the Beekman Mansion with a FOR SALE sign in the front yard was the final push. Josh and Brent bought the white wedding cake of a house with a wrap-around porch. They moved to Sharon Springs and never looked back. The Beekman Boys were born.
In the ensuing years, Josh and Brent have built an empire based on all-things Beekman. They were featured in a reality show called The Fabulous Beekman Boys on Planet Green and the Cooking Channel. (My favorite episode: Ghost hunters come to the mansion to investigate a possible haunting by young Mary Beekman.) They were on the Amazing Race, (and won!) They run a mercantile in town and online called Beekman 1802 where they sell goat milk soap and cheese — products of their own farm. They sell Mortgage Lifter Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce which donates 25% of its earnings to small American farms. They have a brand-new magazine called Beekman 1802 Almanac.
You will root for Josh and Brent because to root for them is to root for the good guys. And they are great guys! Their mantra is small towns, loving your neighbor, giving back to the community, working hard and having fun. Check out their books. You’ll adore them and I guarantee you’ll want to visit Sharon Springs once you’re done.
The Cedar Rapids Public Library carries The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell; the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook; and the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook. (I recommend the Oatmeal Cream Pies with Ginger Cream. So good!)