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The Carry Home
     

The Carry Home

5.0 3
by Gary Ferguson
 

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The nature writing of Gary Ferguson arises out of intimate experience. He trekked 500 miles through Yellowstone to write Walking Down the Wild and spent a season in the field at a wilderness therapy program for Shouting at the Sky. He journeyed 250 miles on foot for Hawks Rest and followed through the seasons the first fourteen wolves released into Yellowstone

Overview


The nature writing of Gary Ferguson arises out of intimate experience. He trekked 500 miles through Yellowstone to write Walking Down the Wild and spent a season in the field at a wilderness therapy program for Shouting at the Sky. He journeyed 250 miles on foot for Hawks Rest and followed through the seasons the first fourteen wolves released into Yellowstone National Park for The Yellowstone Wolves. But nothing could prepare him for the experience he details in his new book.

The Carry Home is both a moving celebration of the outdoor life shared between Ferguson and his wife Jane, who died tragically in a canoeing accident in northern Ontario in 2005, and a chronicle of the mending, uplifting power of nature. Confronting his unthinkable loss, Ferguson set out to fulfill Jane’s final wish: the scattering of her ashes in five remote, wild locations they loved and shared. The act of the carry home allows Ferguson the opportunity to ruminate on their life together as well as explore deeply the impactful presence of nature in all of our lives.

Theirs was a love borne of wild places, and The Carry Home offers a powerful glimpse into how the natural world can be a critical prompt for moving through cycles of immeasurable grief, how bereavement can turn to wonder, and how one man rediscovered himself in the process of saying goodbye.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/29/2014
Ever-evocative nature writer Ferguson (Shouting at the Sky) pens a memoir that doubles as an intensely personal, sweet, and melancholy love song to his lost beloved and to the wild places of America. Though there is grief in this remarkable tribute, the net effect is more joy than sadness. Ferguson shares the story of his journey to five locations where his wife, Jane, a park ranger and wilderness guide, wanted her ashes spread after her death in a river canoeing accident. He intersperses this narrative with stories from their 25 years of a “life brilliantly off-balance” together, culling from both of their travel journals and offering the anecdotes long-term couples share over dinner with new friends. In the background, observations of both the timelessness of nature and of the moods of a whole generation of itinerant nature lovers—in this case frustrated by the politics of wolf management and logging concerns—give a quiet universality to Ferguson’s private thoughts. As in the best nature writing, the human experience becomes infinitesimally small and yet paramount, the “mythical shining through the mundane.” Ferguson has lovingly invested Jane’s memory with “unspeakable tenderness,” both the aspects of a goddess and of a leaf fallen gently to the ground. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

"Ever-evocative nature writer Ferguson (Shouting at the Sky) pens a memoir that doubles as an intensely personal, sweet, and melancholy love song to his lost beloved and to the wild places of America.…In the background, observations of both the timelessness of nature and of the moods of a whole generation of itinerant nature lovers…give a quiet universality to Ferguson’s private thoughts…" —Publisher's Weekly

"Gary Ferguson writes under the influence of poetry, especially that of beat poets Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder, known as the poet laureate of Deep Ecology. But Ferguson’s prose is clear and engaging, and he uses it to convey his hard-earned knowledge of fear and freedom and the failings of the boomer generation." —High Country News

"With the same exceptional skill and astute observations about our environmental heritage that he displayed in 22 previous nonfiction works on nature and science…Elegiac and deeply moving, Ferguson’s memoir is both a heartfelt eulogy to his late, beloved wife and an introspective meditation on the healing power of nature over grief." —Booklist

“Gary Ferguson has told an exquisite and heart-rending tale. It is a journey into the deepest parts of the human soul and the wildest places in wilderness. I defy any reader to finish this brilliant book with dry eyes.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway, Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

"The Wilderness Act turns 50 this year, making it an ideal time to reflect on the impact of nature on our lives. For nature writer Gary Ferguson, however, the subject is deeply personal. After his wife Jane died in a 2005 canoeing accident, he traveled across America to scatter her ashes in wild spaces. The resulting powerhouse of a book is not to be missed." —Backpacker Magazine

“Praise Gary Ferguson, for taking us on the most intimate journey from utter loss and devastation through rebirth and all the way to wonder, for letting the wilderness that had always saved him, save him again. Praise him for this big hearted, lyrical, and loving reminder of why we went to the wilderness in the first place, of how it saved us and made us—and how it might still. If we are courageous enough to love it in all its diminishments, if we are brave enough to fight for what remains.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

“Here is alchemy; equal parts intellect, courage, and honesty. In The Carry Home Gary Ferguson has accomplished what only the best of us can hope to achieve in a lifetime; he has spun grief into a golden exultation of the natural world and its ability to heal our wounds.” —Mark Spragg, author of Where Rivers Change Direction and An Unfinished Life

"...the author twines this talent for alert, panoptical movement through spaces and places…Throughout the author emphasized and explores the couple's love of, and devotion to, the natural world…Pearly sentences slide one to another as Ferguson travels 'deeper into grief' — but he never fully gave in to despair, and that is to readers' benefit…A sprawling, lovely, nourishing tonic for all those who dip into it." —Kirkus

Hawk’s Rest

"A sharp and ironic sense of what it's like to live in the American outback, twenty-first-century style." —Natural History Magazine

“A well-written work ... if you love Yellowstone, a great treat.” —Desert News

“Dazzling ... an Edward Abbey-esque book, full of snappy vignettes and chiseled writing.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Ferguson evoke(s) feelings of solitude, timelessness, and aching beauty in the smallest details.” —The Oregonian

“Mournful and defiant as a wolf howl ... an eloquent tribute to a threatened place and its lone protectors.” —Los Angeles Times

Decade of the Wolf

“This should be your book if you care at all about preserving wildness in the world.” —William Kittredge, author of The Nature of Generosity

“Respectful and intriguing, this in an indispensable historical document on the West, all the more so for the elegance of the story and the clarity of writing.” —Rick Bass, author of The New Wolves and The Ninemile Wolves

“Wolf biologist Smith and nature writer Ferguson (Hawks Rest) deliver a compelling inside look at the Yellowstone Wolf Recovery Project, covering the 10 years that have passed since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the controversial decision to reintroduce wolves into the national park. Their book is a detailed look at how the return of the wolves—once among the most numerous of North American predators—has provided scientists with a chance to witness "the dynamic forces of nature that drove this region before the coming of the Europeans" as well as to puzzle out what wolves mean to the area's ecosystem...It's a perfect balance to Hank Fischer's Wolf Wars and will please fans of that well-received overview of the controversy.” —Publishers Weekly

“A marvelously intimate look at the ups and downs of wolf reintroduction...this intimate history of the return of the top predator to Yellowstone will find an eager audience.” —Booklist, Starred Review

Select Awards and Honors
High Plains Book Festival Lifetime Achievement Award
University of Idaho Visiting Writer, Spring 2011
2005 Montana Book of the Year for Decade of the Wolf
Mountains & Plains and Pacific Northwest Booksellers Associations Nonfiction book of the Year for Hawks Rest
Lowell Thomas Award for The Sylvan Path
Seigle Scholar, School of Political Science, Washington University, St. Louis, 2002
William Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer, University of Montana, Spring 2007

Kirkus Reviews
2014-08-27
A eulogy to the too-early passing of the author's mate and a chronicle of the "[f]ive treks to five unshackled landscapes" to scatter her ashes. Ferguson (Rainier Writing Workshop/Pacific Lutheran Univ.; Opening Doors: Carole Noon and Her Dream to Save the Chimps, 2014, etc.) has had a fruitful career as a natural history writer, and he has always been fascinated by the outdoors: "Foremost on our minds in those years was the hope that the last of America's big, unfettered landscapes might help us sustain the open-heartedness of youth," he writes. Here, the author twines this talent for alert, panoptical movement through spaces and places with an encomium for his wife, Jane, who died in 2005 in a canoeing accident on the Kopka River in Ontario. The story wanders from the past to the present, from emotions to observations, the trigger of memory pulled by a Hudson Bay blanket, a loon call, a road atlas, prairie smoke and Apache bloom. Throughout, the author emphasizes and explores the couple's love of, and devotion to, the natural world, taking a cue from Kenneth Rexroth to "see life steadily, see it whole," experiencing that first shock of sage in a landscape where the wild light of the unvarnished outdoors pointed to something elemental and life-giving. Pearly sentences slide one to another as Ferguson travels "deeper into grief"—but he never fully gave in to despair, and that is to readers' benefit. The author's treks both scorched and gladdened him, as he traveled to places of enormous power, bringing into focus the anti-environmental ethos that governs a crippled economy, the "irritating...preciousness" of self-stamped environmentalists "with an embarrassing tendency to want to shut the door to development as soon as we moved in." A sprawling, lovely, nourishing tonic for all those who dip into it.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781619024489
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
11/11/2014
Pages:
296
Sales rank:
336,845
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt


The end came for Jane, and so for us, at the edge of spring, when the leaves of the north country were washed in that impossible shade of lemonade green. A color she said always reminded her of a certain crayon in the old Crayola 64 boxes she had as a kid – one labeled simply “yellow green” - a clumsy name with no hint of the promise it held, which was like an early thought of summer, before summer gets quickened by the sun. I was struck by how easily, how routinely she made such connections, coupling little shards of nature she found as an adult, to some encounter when she was young. For her, then, wild country was a way in – a means of inciting the sweet startle of childhood.

Meet the Author


Over the past twenty-five years Gary Ferguson has established himself as an expert chronicler of nature, having written for a wide variety of publications from Vanity Fair to The Los Angeles Times. He is the author of nineteen books on science and nature, including the award-winning Hawk’s Rest. He is also a highly regarded keynote speaker at conservation and outdoor education gatherings around the country and is currently on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop Masters of Fine Arts program at Pacific Lutheran University.

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The Carry Home 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The wilderness Ferguson writes of is almost out my back door. How blessed was he to share it with Jane for 25 years and how poignant it is that it is her "final" resting place where her spirit will abide. Ferguson paints pictures of the beauty and dangers of the wilderness with his words so that you can feel and imagine yourself there. To mourn is respect and to remember is holy and Jane will be remembered through his writings. Excellent book especially for those who love and respect the wilderness.
Bobbi-C More than 1 year ago
My professor recommended this book after I expressed interest in the emerging field of ecopsychology. This is a wonderfully written account of the journey through grief and loss and how the natural world can serve as a guide through the darkest parts of that trek to find love, compassion, and a renewed sense of self. I look forward to reading his other works soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Review By Kathleen Wall The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness by Gary Ferguson (2014) Counterpoint Press, Berkeley, CA. With vivid sincerity Gary Ferguson, a nature writer, depicts the power of the American wilderness to destroy and ultimately to heal. He describes the pilgrimage to wild places that invigorated his early life with his nature loving wife Jane. He engrosses us in the five majestic spots where he fulfilled his wife’s wish to scatter her ashes. She died in a tragic canoeing accident, the drama of which was skillfully woven into the book between the treks. This interweaving allows the readers to be lifted up while experiencing the depth of Gary Ferguson’s trauma, grief, and slow revival by again communing with the wilderness this couple loved.  Interlaced were reflections on changes in the environmental movement while the wilderness itself took over the course of his life with Jane.  Raw anger about the shooting of wolves, which they worked so hard to restore, to the poisoning of towns by mining, demonstrates the genuine losses. In contrast to idealistic days of their youth, he reflected on the complexity of integrating the many lives and values- that require respect as we attempt to learn the lessons of the American wilderness- while preserving the healing powers of mother earth.  The book’s tapestry was woven with golden threads of truth on the changing nature of life and the landscape itself.  The spiritual maturation took place over the course of the journey. The profound awareness of the fleeting course of all of life, except that of the human spirit, was described as Gary Ferguson came to realize the natural places and all of life is ever transforming. Yet the human spirit is restored and soars from the pilgrimage of the book, The Carry Home Lessons from the American Wilderness.  You will love this book give yourself and your friends this gift.