The Way Home
by Bibi Wein
Provocative from the opening lines, this is a treasure trove of love, loss, humor, and self-discovery amidst the trees and cabins of the Adirondack Mountains.
Provocative from the opening lines, this is a treasure trove of love, loss, humor, and self-discovery amidst the trees and cabins of the Adirondack Mountains:
Somewhere around the age of 40, when I should have been deciding if I wanted to take my last chance at having a second child, should have been looking for a good job… I began instead to learn everything I could about staying out all night in the woods. Since I live in Manhattan, this pursuit could hardly be construed as even marginally relevant to my real life.
Think Gretal Ehrlich and Annie Dillard. But this work is both more personal and more universal. Think Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer for sensitivity to the natural world and narrative sweep.
This book stands out from other tales of the land: it is about the romance and primitive majesty of the wilderness, how it shelters and awes us, terrifies us, and ultimately provides us with a sense of place. Here is exquisitely detailed narration balanced with sharp insights into modern life in the wilderness.
“Bibi Wein offers a lovely and penetrating look into the thickets of the Adirondack woods and of the human heart.” —Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
“The Way Home is a beautifully written, deeply spiritual and disarmingly honest meditation on nature—that found in the glorious out-of-doors as well as that of the infinitely less elegant (and far more exasperating) human being. Think of it as modern-day Walden—a way to sit in an armchair and experience the soul-stirring revelations that are offered when one learns to keep quiet and let the land speak.” —Elizabeth Berg, author of The Art of Mending
“Somewhere around the age of forty, when I should have been deciding if I wanted to take my last chance at having a second child, should have been looking for a good job to replace the one that had recently ended (and later to replace the terrible one I wandered into), I began instead to learn everything I could about staying out all night in the woods.
Since I lived in Manhattan, this pursuit could hardly be construed as even marginally relevant to my real life. But I’d recently acquired a life apart from my “real” one—a life lived outdoors, if mostly in my mind. It was a little like being in love with someone unavailable and possibly dangerous, with whom one can never spend enough time. Though one may crave the dailiness of a life with such a lover and believe oneself devoted to discerning his elusive truths, what’s essential to the obsession is that his naked face remains unseen.
Such was my romance with the forest: neither concrete nor entirely abstract, but an amalgam of sensual experience and blind desire, driven by myth, emotion and imagination.
When I caught myself striding through the noonday crowds near Rockefeller Center wondering whether the perfume I’d dabbed at my neck this morning would attract bears, I realized I was, as much as any bigamist, straddling two worlds.
Yet, in both my indoor life and my mostly imagined outdoor one, I had one partner. Timid in our early emotional explorations as we nursed recent wounds, we devoted much of our first year together to wandering on foot in unfamiliar terrain. After a few dinner-and-movie dates, I’d suggested to Bob that we take a walk in a state park one Sunday—and it was as if I’d tripped a latch and released him from a cage.
We went wandering only once or twice a month at first. Bob was a classical clarinetist with a day job in a music store; I was juggling freelance writing assignments with a full-time job in the video industry. We both frequently worked weekends. But the urge to rush out, rain or shine, to the wildest places we could reach within a day’s round-trip of Manhattan was a passion, mutual and unexpected. Neither of us had done anything like this before, and it seemed pretty peculiar to our respective friends. Until now, smoky jazz clubs had been our natural habitat.”
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“While reading Bibi Wein’s memoir, The Way Home: A Wilderness Journey, I stopped mid-sentence, tucked my bookmark—(a Chinese fortune)—between the pages and rushed to my computer to write because good books always inspire me to write.” –Carol Hoenig, author of Without Grace.
“If we’re fortunate, each of us will experience several incidents throughout life that jar us from the complacency and routine of everyday existence–some of these events will be tragic, some transcendent, some potentially deadly. Yet, in the moments following, we’ll begin to re-appreciate the nuances of friendship, the simplicity of joy, the ease of love.” –Jen Henderson
“The Way Home engages us in the coming to nature of a woman accustomed to living in the suburbs and the city. She tells her story with candor and takes is along with her as she grows to a deeper understanding of her life and the nature of the Adirondacks…” –Anthony Tyler, 2005 issue of Blueline, A Literary Magazine Dedicated to The Spirit of the Adirondacks
Bibi Wein and The Way Home were featured in an interview with Todd Moe of North Country Public Radio. Excerpts of the interview can be heard at the NCPR website.
“…in the American literary tradition of escaping into the woods to not only discover more about the world which we inhabit, but also to discover how the world allows us to explore and come to a better understanding of ourselves.” The online journal Three Candles, a wonderful poetry resource, is now branching into non-fiction and fiction.” –threecandles.org