In this collection of essays, the author taps into various travels as pivots for her midlife reflection.
In 13 chapters, Voss, a 50-something registered nurse, meditates upon her life’s trajectory in the context of what she has identified as key travel moments, encompassing childhood and adult experiences. In particular, she details trips within her native state of Iowa to the Mines of Spain Recreation Area; her visit to “Claus-Land,” i.e., Germany, the land of her ancestors and specifically great-great-grandfather Claus; and to Spain, the destination she set for herself as part of her process of obtaining a later-in-life graduate degree in creative writing. The chapter “Steps that Count” reflects the perspective taken in all her essays—that to document certain journeys is to hold a mirror up both to nature and one’s life. Her most affecting stories are often those of treks more near than far; for instance, a treacherous sailboat experience in Canada that she endures with a soon-to-be-ex husband, who she realizes cares more about adventure than her safety, and her connection to Iowa eagles and their shared “history of endocrine disruptor chemicals that led to the eagles’ near extinction and to the total extinction of my dreams of motherhood.” The autobiographical details are sometimes intense, as in a loaded sentence within “Claus-Land”: “Despite twelve years of trying to conceive, four lost babies, two lost husbands, five major surgeries, four outpatient procedures, fifteen artificial inseminations, three in vitro fertilizations, forty thousand dollars and countless daily hormone injections, motherhood wasn’t to be.” Still, Voss’ largely elliptical approach in unfolding her life’s stories is elegantly executed and effective. Readers may be left wanting more from this engaging author, who touches a variety of relatable topics, including a charming riff, while on Prince Edward Island, about her affinity with Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables (1908) and the character’s love of fashion as well as Mother Earth.
A gracefully written, travel-focused memoir with particular appeal for midlife and female readers.