May 13, 2019

Closer to the Ground

An Outdoor Family's Year on the Water, in the Woods and at the Table
by Dylan Tomine

This book was very enjoyable. It's about a family that does a lot of what I wish I did more of- forage, grow, harvest and catch their own food. Well, they benefit by living right by the ocean- literally five minutes from a boat ramp. They go crabbing, fishing, deer hunting, gather mussels, dig clams, hunt chanterelles and pick berries in the forest, and grow a vegetable garden. The father is passionate about finding and cutting deadfall trees to heat their house all year round. Not all trees are equal in this- I didn't realize by how much. Not all goes as planned- but Tomine writes with wry humor his own mishaps, and describes in glowing tones his small triumphs, and wow the food sounds delectable all round (this book makes me hungry.) His kids get muddy, wet, cold and tired- and are happily involved, delighted in their part. They are always eager to try one more fishing spot, drop one more crab pot. They point out the lovely things alone the way- porpoises and seals in the Sound, birds on the water, when dad often just wants to find the thing they came to catch and get it home again- kids make you slow down and appreciate the doing of it. He talks about the tricky balance between trying to live "green" and being practical about it- especially when it comes to what kind of car they drive, and where they source materials for an addition to their house. It's honest about how much one can do- when their tomato crop fails due to blight, they recognize it's okay- they don't solely live off their garden produce, and they have a ton of stuff growing wonderfully even when the tomatoes didn't make it. It's about doing what you can to be good to the Earth, living close to nature and making the most of the available bounty. It also makes me nostalgic, being written by a man who lives on an island in Puget Sound- right around where I grew up. I heartily recommend this book to my siblings and parents- I'm sure they would really appreciate it.

Borrowed from the public library.

Rating: 3/5                  230 pages, 2012

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