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New Book Announcement

With such joy, I want to share with you that my book, Buoyant – What Held Us Up When Our Bodies Let Us Down, will be published this summer by New Bay Books. This book has been in the works for over thirteen years and now is ready.

Here is what it's about:

Juxtaposing the rhythms of the Chesapeake Bay with the chaos of disease, Buoyant offers intimate portrayals of life with visible and invisible illness through personal story. Delving beneath my friend Janet’s cancer-distorted face to her tenderness and humor as death approaches, and beneath my athletic exterior to my crippling despair and self-doubt after a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, the book follows the healing friendship between Janet and me in the midst of gritty circumstances.

Singing Carolina wren

Singing Carolina wrens, migrating tundra swans, undulating Chesapeake Bay ice, and a thriving New Hampshire bog add vibrancy and calm, as well as metaphors for living with chronic conditions.

Sunrise over ice-covered South River

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing news plus excerpts from the book for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Chapter 1:

The prow of my kayak cuts through cold water, colder air. Rafts of migratory ducks dive and dabble for breakfast; the flute-like calls of tundra swans haunt the stillness. No other boaters in sight. The quiet is intoxicating.

Heading out over the green water of the Chesapeake Bay, I tow a foot-long plankton net behind my kayak, hoping to collect specimens for my high school biology students. For twenty minutes, the push-pull of my arms propels me in a wide slow circle, then towards shore to rest for a moment and simply drift. But when I haul in the net to check the small collecting jar, my heart sinks. The jar looks empty. I know microscopic plankton should be thriving here, but the clarity of the water sets off a niggling irrational thought. What if the water is just water?

The next day, I take the jar to my classroom wondering what critters are indeed present. Using eyedroppers, the high-schoolers and I place single drops of the Bay water on our glass slides. We set thin coverslips along one edge of our droplets and let them fall, squeezing out the air bubbles. Slides are positioned under microscope lenses and clipped in place.

What a menagerie! Gyrators, wigglers, rotators, and spinners fling themselves through our views. The green and brown and transparent zooplanktons are tentacled, ciliated, whiskered, and limbed. The biggest — a copepod looking like a one-eyed two-antennaed many-legged monster — is one millimeter long, the width of a pin. Baby barnacles, a tenth of the copepod’s size, whirl by looking like hairy-legged, horned triangles. We measure them, draw pictures of them in lab books, use field guides to identify them. With the giddiness of a prospector finding gold in gravel, I pop from scope to scope marveling with my students at the fantastical life. Who knew we would find such rich diversity in single drops of clear water?

Who knows what we will encounter beneath the surface of our lives?

So much can lurk unseen.

[If you would like to comment -- and I would love to hear from you! -- please use the purple comment section at the bottom. Thank you!]

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