The Inner Green: Exploring Home in the Columbia Mountains
The Inner Green delves into the terrain of the physical, biological and human history of the Columbia Mountains. These personal and moving essays touch on both the common and rare and include explorations about the cedar bug, the source of the Salmo River, endangered mountain caribou among others. “This delightful book is about personal discovery and reverence for the Columbia Mountain region. If you want to explore one of the loveliest places on earth, while gaining insights into its special beauty, its ecology and the people who inhabit it, this is a book you should read.” Joan Snyder, Wildlife Biologist
The Idea of Home
by Luanne Armstrong from Winter 2005/2006 issue of Geist Magazine
Most of the interesting books to be found on the subject of home and place, where we live and how we relate to it, are American, but The Inner Green (Maa Press) is a collection of natural history and personal essays by K.L. Kivi and Eileen Delehanty Pearkes about the place they live: the Columbia Mountain ecosystem in B.C. This book is about things that matter. It’s beautifully produced, it has been polished until the writing sings and one can refer to it whenever one wants to remember some interesting fact about cedar bugs. It’s about trees, squirrels, mountains, salmon and other inhabitants of a particular ecosystem, an amazing part of the world that is really an island in the mountains bounded by the Columbia and Kootenay rivers. The mountains, the natural diversity, the distance, the closed-in valleys in winter – all have contributed to a culture where people live out their dreams in various, often eccentric ways. The book provides an antidote to alienation and a glimpse into what it can mean to form a profound relationship with a particular place.
Local writers share their inner green
by Anne DeGrace
It’s rare that the preface of a book tells you to put it down. And yet, that’s what The Inner Green does. Go ahead,lay it on the table beside your favourite reading chair and move outside, it says.
When K.L. Kivi and Eileen Delehanty Pearkes wrote: The Inner Green: Exploring Home in the Columbia Mountains (MAA Press, October, 2005), they brought a reverence for both the natural world and the written word. If the book works, you put it down and go outside, where the red squirrel and the gentle stream take on a new glow. Even the lowly stink bug becomes a thing of wonder once Kivi has explored, with humour, her personal relationship with Geoffrey, representative of that ubiquitous clan.
The voices of the two writers are distinct: Kivi’s approach is personal and unapologetically down-to-earth, and for that reason may be more accessible to some readers. It’s hard not to be infected with her curiosity for rock formations and Rubber Boas. Pearkes’s approach is philosophical, steeped in the craft of language itself, with lines that resonate long after the page has turned. Both can get subtly political: effects of clearcut logging, or the survival of mountain caribou. As the two voices interweave, the reader is treated to a breadth of vision that, for the most part, shifts smoothly.
The balance in creative non-fiction can be a tricky one: what may be thin on hard scientific fact for those in the know may at times be technical enough to lose the lay reader. But creative non-fiction melds poetry and treatise: for those of us who lean towards storytelling, it’s a gentle, welcome way to learn. For the most part, Kivi and Pearkes kept this passionate fiction-reader’s interest.
The writing in The Inner Green is dominated by Kivi, who initiated the project. I kept looking for a pattern, a give and take between the two voices, but the chapters don’t alternate, although some are shared by both. Consequently, having become familiar with Kivi’s voice for an extended number of pages, I found the transition to Pearkes’s a little harder than it might have been. Nonetheless, these are strong writers with a gift for language and an infectious love for landscape that comes through in each page.
Pick up this book, but heed its advice: put it down from time to time and go outside, and there: find a landscape that will spark your curiosity, challenge you, and help you encounter your own inner green.