The Great Marsh is the largest continuous stretch of salt marsh in New England, extending from Cape Ann to New Hampshire. Patricia Hanlon and her husband built their home and raised their children alongside it. But it is not until the children are grown that they begin to swim the tidal estuary daily. Immersing herself, she experiences, with all her senses in all seasons, the vigour of a place where the two ecosystems of fresh and saltwater mix, merge, and create new life.
In Swimming to the Top of the Tide, Hanlon lyrically charts her explorations, at once intimate and scientific. Noting the disruptions caused by human intervention, she bears witness to the vitality of the watersheds, their essential role in the natural world, and the responsibility of those who love them to contribute to their sustainability.
Patricia Hanlon is a visual artist who paints the beautiful ecosystem of New England's Great Marsh and is involved in the watershed organizations of Greater Boston. Swimming to the Top of the Tide is her first book.
"Delightful [...] Hanlon offers an alternative vision to environmental preservation that emphasizes communal responsibility over the pervasive doom and gloom of climate activism."
– Cleaver Magazine
"In her charming debut [...] [Hanlon] turns the quotidian details of marriage and family life into a lyrical investigation of 'something bigger and more complex than oneself.' [...] Merging leisurely seaside adventure with ecological sensibilities, Hanlon delivers a lyrical ode to a changing environment."
– Publishers Weekly
"Graceful in its descriptive power [...] Hanlon understands how our moral imagination exerts a profound influence on our thoughts, attitudes, and actions [...] [Her] observations are as gently propulsive as the rhythmic stroke of a swim fin."
– Kirkus Reviews
"[Hanlon] is as skilled at demystifying complex scientific concepts as she is in portraying gold-spangled waterline sunsets and muted winter compositions of marsh grasses. The whole is enriched with personal reflections on raising a family, aging, and the changing nature of marriage."
– Foreword Reviews
"Written with a swimmer's spirit, a naturalist's eye, and an ecologist's heart, this book took me to places I have never been. I loved it!"
– Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer and Swimming in the Sink: An Episode of the Heart
"Hanlon's narrative – spare and serene – flows to the rhythms of rising and falling water. Her account, rooted in the particular – nose level in a saltwater creek under the cerulean skies of an idyllic summer, or in icy slush on a dark winter night – is a timely call to consider the tragedies and possibilities of our moment."
– Deborah Cramer, author of Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our World and The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey
"Like Wendell Berry and Rachel Carson, Hanlon is a true poet-ecologist, sharing in exquisitely resonant prose her patient observations of nature's most intimate details. As she and her husband, through summer and snow, swim their local creeks and estuaries, we marvel at the timeless yet fragile terrain of both marshlands and marriage. This is the book to awaken all of us, right now, to how our coastline is changing and what it means for our future."
– Julia Glass, author of Three Junes and A House Among the Trees
"There is nothing quite so wonderful as slipping into a creek and letting it carry you upstream until the tide imperceptibly turns and carries you back out toward the ocean. It is doubly wonderful to discover someone who describes this experience with such love, lyricism, and scientific curiosity. Let Hanlon be your guide to this world."
– William Sargent, author of The House on Ipswich Marsh and Plum Island: 4,000 Years on a Barrier Beach
"Hanlon, in a year of swimming her way through marshes, across tidal rivers and sculpted granite quarries unique to Cape Ann, observes with a remarkably steady gaze all the world has to offer – the beauty and losses both. In clear, spare prose and fine-tuned observation, she takes you on a journey you won't soon forget."
– Tim Traver, author of Sippewissett: Or, Life on a Salt Marsh and Fly Fishing and Conservation in Vermont