Tag Archives: Nature

MIGRATIONS

Visceral. I swear I could feel the cold, smell the sea, sense the dead silence in the forest and sky, and watch the emptying surf crash on the rocks in agony, nearly empty of precious marine life. All fauna and marine life hunted and fished to the edge of extinction by greed and callousness. Yes, it is a dark and depressing world, but the author has the gift to keep the reader reading and reading. In my case, long into the night to finish the book in one sitting,

Migrations sucked me into a world that felt far less like the future and more like an ominous vision of our real-time immediate future. Our own world tilting out-of-control; written a split-second before Covid-19 arrived, escalating heat waves that baked billions of seashore marine life, severe drought, and unstoppable forest fires that have lead to unmerciful deaths and destruction.

In a frozen Artic wilderness, Franny Stone risks life and limb, alone, scrambling along icy cliffs. Her plan, tag three of the few remaining Artic terns about to take flight, for what well may be their last annual migration to Antarctica. The prologue is heavy with a sense of loss, despair, and hopelessness. Franny, in a world seemly without hope, desperately needs to know if these last birds survive. She has an affinity for the birds. She is a thalassophile, a person magnetically attracted to the ocean. Someone feeling trapped on land. Someone who has a spiritual connection to the water. Someone who needs to be in the water to feel complete and free.

Tracking her three Artic terns flying over the earth’s waterways requires a seafaring vessel. Mired in the hopelessness of their own futures, with the seas void of sustainable sources of income, no shipowner is willing to help a  lady’s phrenetic need to track a small flock of birds across the globe. No one until she meets the cryptic Captain Enis Malone and the motley seafaring crew of the Saghani.

The Saghani sets sail through the high seas the boat was never built to traverse following the electronic signal of the Artic terns. As drama unfolds among the captain, Franny, and the experienced crew, we are flipped backward through time to snippets of Franny’s past; a past that seems like ground-hog-day. Times that begin with promise of love and inclusiveness that end with Franny running away.

The story is dark but the reader needs to know how it all ends for Franny, the crew and Captain Enis. Will learning the fate of the birds provide a glimpse of promise that there is still hope left in the world? Can Enis and Franny free themselves from their internal bondage? The ending will surprise you.

Personally, the book affected me deeply. Will we destroy our own world through indifference and misuse of resources? Is there hope for our children’s children?

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

THE SUN IS A COMPASS : a 4000 mile journey into the Alaskan Wilds

There is always a certain level of risk involved in negotiations with wild places and wild elements. Even those places that seem tame, or familiar. . . The key is finding a balance – trying to determine whether the risk is worth the reward. Caroline Van Hemert

Caroline Van Hemert and her husband, Patrick Farrell have reached a pivotal point in their lives. Life-long naturalists,  experienced wilderness trekkers and residents of Alaska have found themselves defined by their jobs and miserable. Caroline, after years of academic study is a research wildlife biologist “locked” inside a science lab peering into a microscope. Patrick, a home builder, yearns to see the trees still rooted in nature and simmers with repressed wanderlust.

They now face the end of what I call their “immortal” years. That spry time where you dream of what you want to be when you grow up and live life to its fullest pushing decisions that must be made aside for the time being. Unencumbered by children or full-time careers, Caroline and Patrick were free to dream and travel the world at leisure to experience the thrill of discovering what lies around the next bend.

But now they have reached their mid-thirties and they discover themselves sitting at the top of the roller-coaster staring down at all those weighty thoughts they put off thinking about.  Do we want a family? Have we reached that point in our lives where we live day-to-day repeating our activities like Ground Hog Day? They realize that they can’t answer those questions without taking time off to reflect. They are still strong and capable of physically challenging adventures and if they are to take one last fling at living life on the edge, it is now or never.

A long neglected plan created by the duo to travel over 4000 miles from the rain forests of Washington state to a remote point on the frozen shores of the Alaskan Arctic Ocean was dusted off, reexamined and with the help of family and friends carefully laid out. They were planning to “go where no man had gone before”. Traveling wild areas, some uncharted and vaguely described on maps. Testing their mettle in ways they could not have imagined. Meeting strangers and experiencing kindness and generosity unimagined.

Armchair adventurers, you are in for a treat. Caroline has a gift for writing that will have you breathless with excitement, slack jawed with awe, and dumbfounded that anyone would take on such a challenge to face starvation, marauding bears, and extreme weather conditions. Her descriptions of awesome beauty found in a single flower or the burst of birdsong flood your mind. The words so carefully chosen that the reader is engaged fully in Caroline’s journey physically and emotionally. She lets it all hang out and it is her honesty and sincerity that makes the book so special. The uninitiated backwoods traveler will be surprised that within the isolation and raw weather extremes, the mind slips into a zone where the issues that led you into the wilderness will surface giving true meaning to the phrase- finding yourself. We share her tears, laughter, joy, sorrow, thrill of discoveries, and love of life shared with her partner and husband, a man whose incredible skills seem to good to be true.  Everyone needs a man that can look at a fallen log and see a canoe – and makes it so!

The epilogue is icing on the cake; it would seem she found the answers to her mental questions. Recommended reading.

ARC provided by Edelweiss in exchange for my opinion and review.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews