“I’m excited for the food movement: It’s a really special time, seeing organic and local is trendy across an array of social groups and age levels. It’s been wild watching the hype grow as I’ve made my way around the country. Many of these individuals are not super informed on the reasons to choose organic and local–that, to me, is systematic change. You don’t need reasons to choose organic and local, you eat what tastes better.”
They’re curious, the Ballard Locks. Here, Seattle’s main freshwater lakes, Lake Washington and Lake Union, mix and mingle with the salty inland sea of Puget Sound. The Ballard Locks connect the bodies. They are intricately engineered to move hulking commercial ships, tugs, and barges—as well as smaller pleasure crafts and kayaks, up and down a 26-foot elevation. But this infrastructure was also designed to prevent damage to the freshwater ecosystem and salmon. The locks are an important part of the region’s maritime history since 1916, and with more than a hundred thousand boats, over a million tons of transported cargo, and more than one million people visiting annually, the Ballard Locks are also an intricate mix and mingle of human life.
Many environmentalist-minded readers believe the nature writer of today’s turbulent, climate-changing times should function as both artist and activist. If David Gessner’s All the Wild That Remains (Norton, April 2015) is any indicator, the modern nature writer indeed should embody both roles—and could even expand his or her repertoire and master memoir, essay, biography, travelogue, and/or literary criticism. Via these and more seamlessly braided forms, Gessner’s book calls readers to action, inspiring outdoors-appreciating-yet-non-activist readers like myself, for instance, to question our own sense of place in this world.
“What if, looking at those ducklings, we saw not some reflection of human bravery, some mental state for which we already have the words, here and now, in our gas-guzzling postindustrial lives? What if, instead, we recognized the ducklings’ abandon, as Wendell Berry calls it—the wordless, mindless, absolute passion with which the need to leave the nest has been not merely accepted, but embraced?”