Featuring: Nathan Clay Barbarick and Julia Trechak
Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods
At the age of twenty-two, after graduating from college, Christine Byl wanted to try something different before going back to school for her graduate degree. Moving to Montana with her boyfriend, Gabe, the two took jobs at Glacier National Park, working on the trail crew to make ends meet. Byl, like many middle class young women, had little experience working outside with her hands, and what she discovered as a novice in the woods was a life quite different than the one she had envisioned for herself.
In Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods, Byl recalls long days of clearing brush, digging ditches, building bridges, cleaning up after forest fires, and blasting snow; offering the reader an intimate look at life on the trails. She explores the language, tools, skills, and fraternity of “traildog” work, writing candidly about the harsh living conditions, physical injuries, and body insecurities that come with the job. Byl also reflects on the pleasure of working with her hands, and the importance of making time for nature. “In the best of all possible worlds,” she writes, “our homes and our daily lives would bring us into close contact with the natural world and we would stop to notice it… we would treasure it, participate in it, even. But for many, many of us, rushed lives of mayhem and macadam do not nurture such relationship with anything.
Christine Byl lives in Healy, Alaska, where she and her husband run a trail-design and construction business. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Alaska-Anchorage in 2005, and her prose has appeared in many literary magazines, journals, and anthologies. Byl lives off the grid with her husband and her sled dog, in a yurt on a few acres of tundra just north of Denali National Park. When she isn’t working outside or writing, she loves reading, homestead projects, wilderness adventures, and anything that happens in the snow.
I Promise Not To Suffer: A Fool For Love Hikes The Pacific
With comfortable urban lives in Houston, Texas, and career and life goals mostly accomplished, Gail D. Storey and her husband were in their fifties when they decided it was time to test themselves on a new path—a 2,663-mile path known as the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada.
I Promise Not to Suffer is Gail's light-hearted yet heart-felt memoir about her and her husband's adventures and misadventures, deepening marriage, and reflections on being irrevocably changed by life on the trail. She was a novice hiker, while he was an experienced outdoorsman. Removed from their usual routines and living outside in the wilderness for months exposed hidden intricacies in their relationship. Hiking 20 miles a day over mountains, thirsting in the high desert of California, forcing frozen feet into icy socks and boots each morning in the High Sierra, stumbling through lava fields in Oregon—Gail was required to meet the elements on their own tough-love terms. From an encounter with a mountain lion to her mother's battle with cancer at home, she confronts each challenge with wit and brave style. While a dangerous loss of weight forces Gail to leave the PCT after 900 miles, she regains strength and later rejoins her husband on sections until he triumphantly reaches the northern terminus in Canada.
Humorous yet honest, this journey of harrowing hilarity and reluctant revelations will be loved by active hikers (appendices include details of their unique ultralight gear and other essential how-to information), fans of female adventure stories, and armchair travelers alike.
Gail Storey’s hilariously harrowing memoir, I Promise Not To Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, won the Barbara Savage Miles from Nowhere Award and is forthcoming from Mountaineers Books in Spring 2013.
She’s the author of two novels, The Lord’s Motel and God’s Country Club, as well as a book of poetry and numerous pieces in magazines.
The New York Times Book Review said The Lord’s Motel was “A tale of unwise judgments and wise humor.” Susan Fromberg Schaeffer said in the Chicago Sun-Times: “Profoundly moving and riotously funny….Gail Storey has created such powerful, vivid characters….The Lord’s Motel is a work of art, succeeding on so many fronts…that it truly dazzles.”
God’s Country Club was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection.
Author Rosellen Brown said: “Gail Donohue Storey’s talent, like that of her characters, is for ‘living hopefully in the dark night of the soul.’ She lightens that dark considerably by giving us a very funny (and dead on) commentary on the endless war between the sexes, the Yankees and the South, and finally, the self and its stubborn ghosts. God’s Country Club is written with great elan.”
Gail is married to Porter Storey, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.A.H.P.M., a national leader in hospice and palliative medicine.Together they bicycled on their tandem from Houston to Maine, hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail, bicycled on their tandem from Houston to San Diego, and tackled the 2,663-mile Pacific Crest Trail over the mountains from the border of Mexico to Canada. And they’re still married!
Gail is also a comic performance artist who hoopdances and jumps out of cakes, not necessarily at the same time.
Her literary papers are archived in the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections. For more information, please visit: www.gailstorey.com
Kissed by a Fox: And Other Stories of Friendship in Nature
The idea that nature is separate from human life, and needs to be fixed, exploited, and bent to human will flows throughout Western civilization. For Priscilla Stuckey, a scholar and Earth advocate, this is a fundamental and heartbreaking misconception that has sunk Westerners into an agony of separation, from loved ones, from other creatures, from rich but unruly emotions, in short, from our ability to connect, through senses and feeling and imagination, with the world that is our home.
Drawing inspiration from sources as varied as ancient philosophy, indigenous world views, Christian ethics, Buddhist philosophy, Feminist theory, and Western psychology and science, Kissed by a Fox invites readers into a different story of nature, one in which humans and nature are not separate and can create meaningful relationships to practice more sustainable living in such perilous ecological times. What emerges is a vision of a truly connected life where humans reorder their relationships to the natural world to see nature as alive, aware, and ready to engage in dialogue and friendship.
"Through a tenderly woven collection of essays that blend personal reflections with spirituality, philosophy, animal behaviorism, evolution, geology and ecology, first-time author Stuckey explores the great rift between the living, breathing world and the modern culture bent on developing and destroying it." – Publishers Weekly
Priscilla Stuckey is a writer, scholar, editor, and Earth-advocate with a passion for reconnecting people with nature. Since 2005 she has taught humanities, spirituality, ecology and feminist theory in the graduate programs of Prescott College (Ariz.). When she lived in Oakland (Calif.), a creek that ran through her property inspired the start of the Butters Canyon Conservancy, a neighborhood-based land trust for which she served as founder and first president. She is now active in the local and international movement to extend legal rights to nature. She lives in Boulder, Colo. For more information, please visit: www.priscillastuckey.com
Featuring: Steve Bunch (poet)