By Monomoy Light: Nature and Healing in an Island Sanctuary

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9781555534486: By Monomoy Light: Nature and Healing in an Island Sanctuary
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In this beautifully written book, North T. Cairn reflects on her three extended summer stays on Monomoy, an island wildlife sanctuary. Residing alone in an abandoned lighthouse-keeper's cottage, she lived simply in the wilderness, studying the diverse habitats of the refuge and its creatures.

Cairn recalls her sojourns on Monomoy, seamlessly blending memoir with natural and social history to trace the transformations that come from encounters with nature and its inhabitants. Her evocative observations of the barrier island paradise-sea and sand, light, flora, migrating birds, white-tailed deer, gray and harbor seals-echo larger, transcendent issues of life in a changing world. For Cairn, the outer world of nature also becomes a metaphor for the inner world of reflection, new discoveries, and healing, particularly of her own childhood trauma and long estrangement from family.

By Monomoy Light will reawaken the reader to the necessities of rest and peace; of space apart for meditative listening and quiet; of the imperative to preserve the character of the wilderness, wherever it may be found.

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About the Author:

North T. Cairn is a journalist who specializes in nature, the environment, human services, and science. She pens a prize-winning weekly nature column for the Cape Cod Times and holds an appointment in nonfiction writing at Mount Holyoke College. She lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts. John Hay is the author of several books, including A Beginner's Faith in Things Unseen, The Bird of Light, and In the Company of Light. He lives on Cape Cod.

From Publishers Weekly:

Cairn, a nature columnist for the Cape Cod Times, spent part of three summers (1993-1995) on Monomoy Island, a wildlife refuge off the coast of Cape Cod. Living in an abandoned lighthouse-keeper's cottage, she took the full measure of this federally designated wilderness area, regular stopover point for migrating birds, home to deer, seals, voles, snakes. She also healed herself emotionally and spiritually, she says, through immersion in nature, but in this beautifully written account she gives only sporadic, tantalizing glimpses of her inner life. We learn that she was born Martha Mulder and changed her name to sever her ties with the past; that her estranged father, a well-to-do Chicago lawyer, was authoritarian (the book opens in 1993 with her visit to his deathbed). She alludes briefly to childhood incest that left deep psychological scars. On Monomoy, healing and self-transcendence arise as she communes intensely with creatures eking out a living in the sand, sun, tides and rain. This produces shimmering, exquisite prose that offers a lyric meditation on what it means to be human and our place in nature, but is a lot less satisfying as a record of personal transformation. Seamlessly fusing ecology, history, archeology and naturalist observation, Cairn examines Monomoyick Indians' early contacts with European explorers and settlers; conjures up now vanished Whitewash Village, a once thriving 19th-century fishing port on the island; recounts shipwrecks and heroic rescues; and explores myths, lore and legends surrounding animals. She also evenhandedly reviews the simmering controversy pitting environmentalists and local residents against federal wildlife officials who exterminated aggressive gulls and coyotes in an effort to preserve species biodiversity. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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