First published in 2004, and now with a new introduction by the author and a foreword by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., this book of natural history, environmentalism, and politics explores one of the Earth's last primeval places: Clayoquot Sound. Pitt-Brooke takes the reader on 12 journeys, one for each month of the year. Each journey covers the outstanding natural event of that season, such as whale-watching in April, shorebird migration in May, and the salmon spawn in October.
What Canadian naturalist Pitt-Brooke chases in this paean to Clayoquot Sound, a still pristine patch of Vancouver Island's west coast, is hope hope that the environmental diversity of that short stretch of natural paradise will survive population pressure, industrial encroachment and logging devastation. In a dozen poetic year-in-the-life chapters, Pitt-Brooke savors nature with Thoreauvian gusto. In January, he seeks out batten-down-the-hatches winter winds. Come April, he's out to sea, eye-to-eye with cavorting whales as they migrate north. June is for walking the intertidal zone, where mollusks and other briny beings thrive and die in the few feet where ocean washes over land; October is for hiking mountain streams, where salmon come home to spawn and black bears come to feed on them. At the close of the year, Pitt-Brooke's quest moves from exuberant physical experience to spiritual and historical reflection, as he searches for signs of ancient human presence on the land and distills the accounts of the European explorers who a scant two centuries ago wrested the land from its original inhabitants. Though the book's emotional focus is on one singular geographical location, it's a clarion call for the preservation of all wild places.