A Fair Trade Book
Title: Island Year
Author: Hazel Heckman
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Length: 247 pages plus index
Illustrations: drawings by Laurie Olin
Quote: "Seen from the air, the (approximately) six-by-three-mile chunk of real estate known as Anderson island resembles a wooded oasis surrounded by water."
Island Year consists of one year of nature notes from Anderson Island off the Pacific coast of the state of Washington. If you like reading the phenology posts on the blogs of those of us who post them, you'll probably enjoy Island Year. It's not meant to be read through for the plot like a novel; it's a collection of short, newspaper-column-or-blog-post-length descriptions of what Heckman saw.
And, of course, sometimes what she did about it. "His hand feet clamped precariously on the trough, a half-grown raccoon hung from the bathroom eave..Confused by my appearance, he let the basket go...and then swung like a plum bob in an effort to regain his balance. For a moment I was sure he would not make it and prepared to catch him..."
And what other people did about it. "The mail brought a packet from a stranger--a pale blue lapel pin in the shape of a raindrop, inscribed...I LOVE RAIN, symbol of the I Love Rain Society. 'To rainwash the world and keep Washington's image wet, to discourage crowds.'"
And, inevitably...even in May a favorite trail reminds Heckman of the mortality of people and the places they loved. "I think often of Bob and Nella...Bob is gone now, and Nella does not come any more. She prefers to remember the paths they took together...I hope those who come after me will feel, that the path should be left unchanged, that it is only ours for a time, that it belongs not to us but to all of the natural life that grows and dwells there--to the deer and the raccoons that daily negotiate the trail, to the hummingbird that comes to feed on the flowering currant, to the kingfisher and the pigeon guillemot that nest in the bank..."
According to the publisher, this book is a classic. You don't even have to buy a secondhand copy; they've reprinted it, and you can even preview the drawings here:
It's reasonably easy to find secondhand. $5 per copy + $5 per package, to either address in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, is probably not the best deal you'll find if you search the'Net. However, Hazel Heckman is apparently still alive (though not active on the Internet--she has a Facebook page, but it's blank) so Island Year is a Fair Trade Book: if you buy it here, we'll send $1 per copy to Heckman or a charity of her choice. If you buy four copies that can be mailed out in one package, Heckman or her charity will receive $4, even though you'll pay only $25.
(The tags were: Anderson Island, nature notes, Pacific Northwest,pigeon guillemot, raccoon,Washington state.)