cover image Swimming to the Top of the Tide: Finding Life Where Land and Water Meet

Swimming to the Top of the Tide: Finding Life Where Land and Water Meet

Patricia Hanlon. Bellevue, $17.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-942658-87-0

Hanlon, an artist and longtime coastal Massachusetts resident, tours New England’s Great Marsh in her charming debut, vividly capturing the natural beauty and geological history of the watershed along the Massachusetts and New Hampshire coast. The first part of Hanlon’s survey sees her and her husband “exploring the same landscapes over and over”: after her children grew up and left home, Hanlon writes, she and her husband browsed the beaches, quarries, and saltwater creeks that form the marsh, and she turns the quotidian details of marriage and family life into a lyrical investigation of “something bigger and more complex than oneself” as she and her husband “made a pact with each other to swim every time we possibly could.” The second part sheds light on such environmental concerns as habitat loss and overfishing, and interviews with scientists (such as a marine biologist who studies nitrogen runoff) enrich the story without breaking the flow. Merging leisurely seaside adventure with ecological sensibilities, Hanlon delivers a lyrical ode to a changing environment: “Places become real when they are loved,” she writes. This is bound to please both environmentalists and anyone in search of a breezy dip into nature. (June)