Water People

“Water People” is a collection of coming-of-age essays about how natural spaces can serve as a balm and mirror to daily chaos, and how the natural world can teach women, in particular, to become their own dependable heroines. I grew up on the California coast, learning early on how to surf winter waters, how to avoid tourist traps, and the tender exquisiteness of a Cyprus tree’s roots. I also grew up the daughter of Dutch immigrants, one of whom moved back to the Netherlands while I was still young, leaving behind my mom, my brother and I in a home that veered toward the chaotic. Her boyfriend, for instance, was addicted to opioids. I spent formative years striving to find safety while simultaneously putting myself at risk. I surfed waves much too large and dangerous for me, I learned to drive up and down San Francisco hills, and I dated a drug dealer. I write about the indifference of the wild, pushing myself beyond my limits and ignoring my own intuition, and paying the price. In “To All the Trees in California,” I mourn the fires in Tahoe, and the consequences of delayed action. In “Love, Growth and Empathy in the Women’s Room,” I celebrate my mother, who raised me up to care, to keep my chin lifted and ears perked and to respect the land I walk on. In “A Map Reading,” I pose the kinds of questions that keep me up at night, like, how can I bring a child into a rapidly deteriorating climate crisis?