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The Long Search for Home in the Pacific Northwest

by Sallie Tisdale

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1991
ISBN: 0-8050-1353-9
Publisher: Henry Holt

The Pacific Northwest, as concept and reality, is the focus of this impressionistic, strangely seductive pastiche from lifelong area-resident Tisdale (The Sorcerer's Apprentice, 1986; Harvest Moon, 1987; Lot's Wife, 1988). The densely worded, unstructured narrative paints an ecological and spiritual portrait of a land often threatened by its most ardent admirers. Interwoven with historical records—including the testimony of explorers, pioneers, and the author herself—are accounts of the ways ``we destroy the land in order to inhabit it'': deforestation from logging; fishing and hunting to extinction; dams eradicating unique terrain and wildlife; the near- genocide of native tribes. But, ``seduced by this land,'' Tisdale is at her most impassioned in depicting forests, mountains, and waterways—which seem more alive here than the people who traverse them. They are seen as epic, not only in size (Douglas firs with ``more needles than this country has people,'' mountains equal in volume to one-trillion six-foot men), but also in the rhythms of existence, such as the ``climax forest,'' which, ``left alone...will pulse its own slow pulse, exhale its own slow breath, forever.'' At times, the lush, overheated prose makes for difficult reading, yet it works admirably in reflecting the bounty of the area. And, refreshingly, Tisdale, an admitted ``tree hugger,'' does little ecological lecturing, preferring to let her tale of nature caught in a fragile balance with civilization convey its own message. An odd and lovely work for partisans of the region and nature- lovers in general.