Dad of Divas' Reviews: Book Review - Closer to the Ground

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Review - Closer to the Ground

About the Book
These days, it's not unusual to witness two teenagers sitting together on a couch texting—to each other. While technology certainly brings its advantages (speed, intensity), it also brings its burdens (speed, intensity), leaving many of us longing to get back to nature, and take our kids with us.

Dylan Tomine, a Patagonia Fly Fishing Ambassador, conservation advocate and noted outdoor writer, saw those two teenagers texting on a couch. And that was the moment he decided to establish a different life for his children: more unplugged, more in tune with the rhythms of tide, weather and season. Less screen time, more oyster-shucking and gardening time. In his memoir Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family's Year on the Water, In the Woods, and at the Table (Patagonia Books, October 2012, hardcover, $29.95), he tells the story of a family learning to live a life more wild.

Filled with weather, natural history and delicious meals, Tomine encourages us to think about our relationship with nature, but in an accessible way. "It's about regular people trying to live a little closer to nature—especially through the process of food—with their kids," says Tomine.

Tomine and his wife left high-rise Seattle for a house in the woods on an island in Puget Sound. There, they raise their children in a way that keeps them in touch with their surroundings—searching for firewood, oysters, and mushrooms.

Part parenting memoir, part food narrative, in Closer to the Ground the author shares his experience exploring nature daily with his kids, ages three and six. The book walks readers through four seasons of family foraging, cooking, and eating from the woods and sea. Together, the Tomine Family hunts chanterelles, fishes for salmon, digs clams and gathers at the kitchen table (mouths watering), to enjoy the fruits of their labor. A surprising result of their fishing and foraging life: the kids see healthy food, like salmon and homegrown vegetables, as delicious treats.

Closer to the Ground carries a timely message, addressing the current—and growing—interest in local food, childhood “nature deficit disorder,” conservation of natural resources, and the general desire to live in closer contact with the earth. It explores a more personal side of subjects covered in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Last Child In The Woods.

"This is leading by example; and the quiet message is to learn to live with the things that really matter, the eternal things about the earth and each other," writes acclaimed author and outdoorsman Thomas McGuane, in the foreword.

Patagonia founder and owner Yvon Chouinard says "Closer to the Ground is a lot more than your usual tribute to local food or to a local sense of place, or how to manipulate your kids into doing what you want them to do. Closer is a good-humored guide to teaching our kids how to learn from nature as teacher and mentor. Chief among nature’s lessons is self-reliance. You can see in Dylan’s kids, the more time they spend foraging and fishing with their dad, just how different their relation is to the food they eat, and how they develop a confidence anyone of any age could envy."

About the Author
DYLAN TOMINE is a writer, conservation advocate and speaker for wild fish and water. He serves as a Fly Fishing Ambassador for Patagonia and a trustee with The Wild Steelhead Coalition. A noted outdoor writer, his stories have appeared in The Flyfish Journal, The Drake, The New York Times, and other publications. He lives with his wife and kids, now five and eight years old, on an island in Puget Sound where they run Bainbridge Island Blueberry Co., a U-Pick blueberry farm.

My Take on the Book
This was such an interesting book, as the author did something drastic in today's standards and walked away from all of the technology and conveniences that we survive on to change the lives of his family and instead turn back to a more natural existence which allows his wife and himself to raise their children in a more natural, more connected to nature way. The book was well written and provides the reader with such vivid imagery about the life that they are living now. I was impressed with this monumental jump into the unknown and how well the family makes the transition as I do not know how I for one, would be able to remain unconnected as this family did. I was envious though by the one-on-one connection that the author had with his family and I could tell that his removal from Seattle to Puget Sound was both intentional and made a lot of sense. For any of you that are looking for a book that will draw you in and encourage you to keep reading, this was definitely the book.

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

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