WILDERNESS MOTHER by Deanna Kawatski


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 This is an unevenly told personal account of a woman who married and raised two children in the Canadian wilderness. Already something of an adventurer, author Kawatski was working alone as a firewatcher in a remote area of British Columbia, when she met the local ``hermit.'' The hermit, who turned out to be young and vital, became her husband. They stayed in the wilderness, building a home, growing vegetables, and trekking three miles to a highway to hitch a ride to the nearest town when they needed to collect mail or buy supplies. Kawatski delivered her first child, Natalia, on the floor of their cabin. The second, Ben, came along--in a hospital--five years later. With their parents, the children hiked and swam and skied, but they also learned about plants and animals, including an unruly rooster and a persistent wolf. The family survived fire, flood, and hordes of insects, mostly mosquitos. Even the Canadian bureaucracy, which tried to move them off the land, had to settle for a draw. Kawatski interspereses lists of flowers, trees, and wildlife with accounts of domestic triumphs like damming the creek to provide electricity for the cabin and a happy holiday dinner. The drudgery of doing laundry in the cold water of the creek was relieved by the epiphany of finding a hummingbird' nest and watching the bean-sized eggs hatch. What differentiates this book from the usual idyllic accounts of life away from civilization is that the Kawatskis didn't live happily ever after. After 13 years of a steadily deteriorating marriage, the author took her children and left her paradise. Moreover, at the time of her departure, lumber interests were clear-cutting the land around them and a highway was being designed to run right through their home. The highway was rerouted, but the idyll was over. Bruisingly honest, rich in the details of daily life, but with a paucity of insight that would give deeper meaning to this adventure. (B&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-55821-201-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Lyons Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1994