A debut memoir testifies to the spiritual benefits of living in communion with nature.
When de Mere and her husband moved to Seattle in 2004, she gave up a decadelong career as a corporate trainer in Los Angeles. Burned out after such stressful work, she shifted gears to focus on caring for her elderly parents, supporting animal charities, and spending time appreciating the Pacific Northwest wildlife right on the couple’s doorstep. Set up as a diary spanning late 2004 through early 2015, this peaceful, observant book is full of magical encounters with the natural world. While de Mere recalls enjoying many spectacular sunsets and views of Mount Rainier, she also reports frequent sightings of sea lions, orcas, dolphins, and water birds. Often she looked up in the middle of a mundane household task to see something extraordinary. For the author, such moments were opportunities to celebrate God’s creation: “If we take time to just sit, just stare, just be, just listen, just be completely still, our Creator’s divine nature overtakes us.” Bird-watchers, especially, should find plenty of appealing scenes of avian behavior. Evening grosbeaks, pileated woodpeckers, and barred owls were occasional visitors, and a pair of bald eagles the author named Abe and Abby set up a nest. Animals also had pride of place in de Mere’s home: She started off with 13 adopted cats plus a rescued American Staffordshire terrier, and later on saved two malamutes. Several holiday newsletters are inserted to convey personal events, and the author’s accomplished black-and-white photographs of animals and the local area (and some uneven poems) are included. The content gets rather repetitive, with years of the same sorts of nature sightings, and the self-help aspect of the subtitle is a bit misleading. A more accurate subtitle would be A Diary of Our Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. Spiritual connection with nature is a definite theme, but the specifically Christian spin feels like an unnecessary overlay, and the “Summary and Lessons Learned” appendix offers generic self-help advice that could be found elsewhere.
A pleasant diary of Pacific Northwest wildlife observations that provides familiar Christian self-help tips as well.