Edge of Awe,
Experiences of the Malheur-Steens Country. Edited by Alan Contreras, illustrations by Ursula LeGuin. Published by Oregon State University Press, 2019.
What a treat! This is a wonderful and engaging anthology of essays, poems, illustrations, and reflections on the country known formally as the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns, Oregon. The area is one of my favorites to visit, not only for birding and photography, but for spiritual renewal and reflection. It is also a place to come with my watercolors and oils, and fresh canvas and paper.
The writing is fresh, soulful, and personal. I sipped this book gently, lingering and savoring. Yet, wanting to cancel the rest of the day, so I could escape to the refuge and feast on this book.
A garden has countless lessons to teach, and in his second collection of essays set in the garden at the Tillamook County Oregon Youth Authority, Homegrown Tomatoes: Essays and Musings from my Garden, former judge Neal Lemery reflects upon what he’s learned in his volunteer capacity, teaching and toiling with the youth. Also included are lessons learned involving members of his community and his friends. Each essay in this collection deals with one of the “big” issues in life we all encounter, young or old.
The garden for Mr. Lemery and the incarcerated youth is more than a garden—it’s a metaphor for life in a general sense, and a place for everyone to be nourished, with wisdom, honor, and respect; a place for listening and conversing, questioning and finding answers, all while completing mundane chores such as weeding and washing dishes.
Whether you are a young parent looking for helpful parenting tips, a mentor, a teacher, or a person looking to live an authentic, joyful life, this book is a treasure chest of heartwarming stories and ideas to help you along your way.
— by Youth Advocate
A nice review of my book from Denise Porter, photographer, writer, and a strong voice in our community. She is Ruralite Magazine’s Writer of the Year for 2014.
“What can I say about this author?
“He lives here, in our town. He strives every day to make a difference in the lives of each person he knows.
I am honored to know him, to have interviewed him, to read his first book.
“Don’t read it if you want to feel comfortable. You won’t. You’ll squirm and feel horrible about the things that happen everyday in our little town to people you know and see everyday.
“You’ll also feel empowered—by Neal’s honesty and integrity and love of his fellow human beings.
“When I sit down and am honest with myself, THIS is what I am striving for in my life. I want to positively impact people. I am not interested in status, bank account tallies or having the “right” connections, clothing or car.
“I AM interested in living a life that is beyond mine. I want to make people feel valuable and I work to capture that through my writing and photography.
“If these are your life goals, may I suggest you read this book?
And then, would you please go one step further and ACT?”