ON ISLAND TIME by Hilary Stewart

ON ISLAND TIME

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Perky, abbreviated noodlings on the wonders of island life add up to a short (mostly natural) history of a small place. Stewart has written and illustrated several books on native cultures of the Pacific Northwest. When she decides to build her long-sought dream house, she lights on Quadra, a small island off British Columbia. There she quickly jumps into island culture, signing up for natural history field trips and joining a fetching ritual whereby residents gather on a beach with percussion instruments and “drum up” the full moon. Although she ponders the usual generic island features--the ferry connection, the insular winters--as well as those distinct to Quadra, nature interests her more than the island’s social order. Stewart melds well with islanders (though admittedly, after decades she’s still an outsider), but her relationship with the natural world seems a bit more problematic. She’s hardly an enlightened naturalist, since she constantly interferes with nature. Finding a gang of robins harassing a lone crow (suspected of raiding the robins’ nests for eggs), she intervenes on the crow’s behalf. She does the same for a raccoon hassled by a murder of crows. She also feeds deer, pilfers wildflower seeds, and goes to great lengths to landscape her property, digging up numerous ferns and even trucking in boulders for a rock sculpture. Despite her tendency to impose a fussy, tidy aesthetic on her little piece of wilderness (she insists on clearing “unkempt” areas), she appreciates the natural bounty on her small island and probably gives back more than she takes. The constant attention to her own nest-feathering may strike some as ostentatious, and it makes one wonder if she’s related to that more famous Stewart, Martha. Stewart’s successful embrace of island life is a good primer for anyone wanting to know the upside of a move to the country. (150 illustrations)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-295-07710-8
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Univ. of Washington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1998