Outside In at the San Marcos Public Library: Waterlog
The San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance recognizes that walking, biking, and hiking in nature can bring health, joy, peace, and even magic into our lives. So, our volunteers work hard to create beautiful pathways through woods and prairies and along our creeks and rivers for all to enjoy. This month’s Outside/ In column celebrates another wonderful way to travel through nature – swimming! Lucky us: we have a beautiful, swimmable river that can take us from the very heart of town to its southeastern edge and beyond!
Last week I was browsing the library’s new bookshelf and was delighted to find an old favorite mine, Waterlog by Roger Deakin. First published in Britain in 1999, Waterlog has just been re-issued for an American audience. Enjoy it and hundreds of other great nature and travel books at your San Marcos Public Library!
Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey Through Britain
By Roger Deakin
Introduction by Bonnie Tsui
Afterword by Robert MacFarlane
SMPL call number: 797.21 DEA
A masterpiece of nature writing, Roger Deakin’s Waterlog is a fascinating, inspiring journey into the aquatic world that surrounds us. Deakin, a founder of the environmental activist group Common Ground, made a life’s work of promoting outdoor activities such as walking, swimming, and biking. He believed that the most effective way to bond people to the landscape was to engage the pleasure principle. The essayist Olivia Laing wrote that “Deakin’s greatest gift—indeed, his legacy—is to make the ecologically minded life a matter of gleeful fun.”
In an attempt to discover his island nation from a new perspective, Roger Deakin embarks from his home in Suffolk to swim Britain–the seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, pools, streams, lochs, moats, and quarries. Through the watery capillary network that braids itself throughout the country, Deakin immerses himself in the natural habitats of fish, amphibians, mammals, and birds. And as he navigates towns, private property, and sometimes dangerous waters and inclement weather, Deakin finds himself in precarious situations: he’s detained by bailiffs in Winchester, intercepted by the coast guard at the mouth of a river, and mistaken for a dead body on a beach.
With a deep well of humanity, boundless humor, and unbridled joy, Deakin beckons us to wilder waters and inspires us to connect to the larger world in a most unexpected way. Thrilling, vivid, and lyrical, Waterlog is an unforgettable celebration of the magic of water. –from the publisher’s notes and The Atlantic, May 2021
Written by Stephanie Langenkamp, member of the Outreach Committee and former SMGA board member.