Book Review: The Carry Home

The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness by Gary Ferguson

(Counterpoint, 2014. 234 pages)

A book review by Lillian Crook

Winner of the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, Gary Ferguson’s books never fail to transport the reader to beautiful and wild spaces. In this more recent work, The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness, he confronts his grief over the death of his wife in a canoeing accident and takes the reader on his healing journey as he scatters her ashes in five different wilderness areas that were important to her. This intimate tale provides insights to the pain all humans must confront in their lives and how we can find solace in both revisiting beloved places as well as discovering new landscapes.

Kirkus describes the book as “a sprawling, lovely, nourishing tonic for all those who dip into it.”

Much of Ferguson’s wisdom is grounded in the thousands of nature myths from around the world which he has studied for years. He writes that each story holds up to one or more of three qualities essential to living well in the world.

“The first of these qualities was a relationship with beauty. The sort of relationship that grows out of quiet, intensely focused moments. . . . The second quality showing up in those stories was community—not just among humans, but with every aspect of creation. A sense of deep belonging—one that carries us out of the little room where loneliness lives into a wide world of ever-present embrace. Of sunlight in our bones and rivers in our blood.”

“The third had to do with the need to cultivate an appreciation for mystery, welcoming places or situations where the world seems utterly unfathomable.”

If you are in need of some balm for your inner wounds, curl up with this and other Gary Ferguson books—and get out on the trail.