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The Carry Home

Lessons from the American Wilderness

List Price: $16.95

September 15, 2015 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 296 Pages | ISBN 9781619025837
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Winner of the 2016 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award

Shortlisted for the 2016 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association's Book Award

The nature writing of Gary Ferguson arises out of intimate experience. He trekked 500 miles through Yellowstone to write Walking Down the Wild and spent a season in the field at a wilderness therapy program for Shouting at the Sky. He journeyed 250 miles on foot for Hawks Rest and followed through the seasons the first fourteen wolves released into Yellowstone National Park for The Yellowstone Wolves. But nothing could prepare him for the experience he details in his new book.

The Carry Home is both a moving celebration of the outdoor life shared between Ferguson and his wife Jane, who died tragically in a canoeing accident in northern Ontario in 2005, and a chronicle of the mending, uplifting power of nature. Confronting his unthinkable loss, Ferguson set out to fulfill Jane’s final wish: the scattering of her ashes in five remote, wild locations they loved and shared. The act of the carry home allows Ferguson the opportunity to ruminate on their life together as well as explore deeply the impactful presence of nature in all of our lives.

Theirs was a love borne of wild places, and The Carry Home offers a powerful glimpse into how the natural world can be a critical prompt for moving through cycles of immeasurable grief, how bereavement can turn to wonder, and how one man rediscovered himself in the process of saying goodbye.

GARY FERGUSON has established himself as an expert chronicler of nature over the past twenty-five years, having written for a wide variety of publications from Vanity Fair to the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of nineteen books on science and nature, including the award-winning Hawk’s Rest. He is also a highly regarded keynote speaker at conservation and outdoor education gatherings around the country and is currently on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop Masters of Fine Arts program at Pacific Lutheran University.


“[A] big-hearted, soul-searching memoir about grief and ritual and identity, about a man looking to nature for answers after the death of his beloved wife…. The beauty is here on every page; his language is gorgeous…” —Los Angeles Times

“Gary Ferguson’s The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness appears at just the right moment to teach us, among other lessons, that wilderness is one of the best places to grieve…. Ferguson’s prose is consistently vivid. He brings the wilderness alive on the page, drawing from knowledge gained over the decades he and Jane spent in western wild lands.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Combining lyrical images, scientific research and hard-won, firsthand experiences, Ferguson has shown readers how the untamed natural world challenges, informs, inspires and awes us… The Carry Home turns the author’s focus on himself, and his chronicle of grief is unstinting and raw, deftly avoiding maudlin and over-sentimental prose.” —Cascadia Weekly

“In his memoir, The Carry Home, he taps into reverent, almost spiritual incantations of nature, and genuinely so. He highlights lively imagery and derives wisdom from his interactions with the wild outdoors. This memoir is a tribute to his late wife as much as it is a work of memory or close connection with the environment…” —The Desesert News

“Gary Ferguson writes under the influence of poetry, especially that of beat poets Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder, known as the poet laureate of Deep Ecology. But Ferguson’s prose is clear and engaging, and he uses it to convey his hard-earned knowledge of fear and freedom and the failings of the boomer generation.” —High Country News

“Ever-evocative nature writer Ferguson (Shouting at the Sky) pens a memoir that doubles as an intensely personal, sweet, and melancholy love song to his lost beloved and to the wild places of America.…In the background, observations of both the timelessness of nature and of the moods of a whole generation of itinerant nature lovers…give a quiet universality to Ferguson’s private thoughts…” —Publishers Weekly

“With the same exceptional skill and astute observations about our environmental heritage that he displayed in 22 previous nonfiction works on nature and science…Elegiac and deeply moving, Ferguson’s memoir is both a heartfelt eulogy to his late, beloved wife and an introspective meditation on the healing power of nature over grief.” —Booklist

“…[T]he author twines this talent for alert, panoptical movement through spaces and places…Throughout the author emphasizes and explores the couple’s love of, and devotion to, the natural world…Pearly sentences slide one to another as Ferguson travels ‘deeper into grief’— but he never fully gave in to despair, and that is to readers’ benefit…A sprawling, lovely, nourishing tonic for all those who dip into it.” —Kirkus

“The Wilderness Act turns 50 this year, making it an ideal time to reflect on the impact of nature on our lives. For nature writer Gary Ferguson, however, the subject is deeply personal. After his wife Jane died in a 2005 canoeing accident, he traveled across America to scatter her ashes in wild spaces. The resulting powerhouse of a book is not to be missed.” —Backpacker Magazine

“Gary Ferguson has told an exquisite and heart-rending tale. It is a journey into the deepest parts of the human soul and the wildest places in wilderness. I defy any reader to finish this brilliant book with dry eyes.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Devil’s Highway

“Praise Gary Ferguson, for taking us on the most intimate journey from utter loss and devastation through rebirth and all the way to wonder, for letting the wilderness that had always saved him, save him again. Praise him for this big hearted, lyrical, and loving reminder of why we went to the wilderness in the first place, of how it saved us and made us—and how it might still. If we are courageous enough to love it in all its diminishments, if we are brave enough to fight for what remains.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

“Here is alchemy; equal parts intellect, courage, and honesty. In The Carry Home Gary Ferguson has accomplished what only the best of us can hope to achieve in a lifetime; he has spun grief into a golden exultation of the natural world and its ability to heal our wounds.” —Mark Spragg, author of Where Rivers Change Direction and An Unfinished Life

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