Book Review: Closer To The Ground by Dylan Tomine

Book Review: Closer To The Ground by Dylan Tomine

For the lovers of adventure and those who find joy living in a part of the world with four distinct seasons, Closer to the Ground takes you on a journey where the destination is not important. Author Dylan Tomine is an ex fly fishing guide, conservation advocate, Patagonia ambassador and father but in his words, not necessarily in that order. The book walks you through a year in the life of the Tomine Family, season by season, adventure by adventure in their little slice of the Puget Sound in the Pacific North West. On the surface, this is a book about an obsession with fishing and a father’s deep desire to share his passion with his children. Even though I have never fished a day in my life, I found this read deeply relatable, entertaining and gripping.
 
Success in fishing, as I learned, requires relentless attention to the weather forecast, late nights, early mornings and the mental space to deal with horrible and unpredictable weather. Does that sound like camping? Hiking? Paddling? Tripping? If you answered yes, you’ll enjoy this whimsical piece of literature. Closer To The Ground offers a glimpse of what it’s like to attempt to live off the land in the PNW, despite having access and means to first world comforts. Sure, the Tomine Family can flick on the furnace, but they’d rather spend months collecting, curing and organizing fire wood so that they don’t have to. If they run out of salmon or frozen strawberries procured from their land and rods, they could just go to the grocery store, but they’d rather not. In a time where everything is available to us at the drop of a hat, it’s inspiring to see people like Dylan Tomine and his wife Stacey continuing to work for life’s basic necessities out of a desire to protect our land and honour generations past.
 
As an adventurer, surely you’ve heard the expression: “the journey is the destination.” A father of two, Dylan includes his children in his daily expeditions in the woods to gather mushrooms, blackberries, firewood, crab trapping and salmon fishing to name a few. Fishing and foraging includes a fair share of fruitless days but invariably there’s a lesson to be learned in the adventure and Dylan writes about these teachings and the conversations he has with his kids when they go home empty handed. Of course, there are many successes too and they are celebrated with the same regard. The days to be celebrated often end with multiple families gathering for catch of the day meals and storytelling that goes late into the night as they clean the kitchen, the boat and equipment to have it at the ready for the next and never far off adventure. Oh and in case you’re a foodie, the book includes a ton of recipes that might make the read worth it in themselves. 

Closer to the Ground is a must read for passionate adventure seekers, parents raising the next generation of climate advocates and anyone who has a deep appreciation for the outdoors. The short chapters will give you an easy escape from crazy daily life and probably inspire you to eat, live and recreate in a more natural way.