On a warm August evening, Brenda Missen, a 37-year-old single, unattached writer, pitches her tent beside a lake in Canada's 7,600 square-kilometre [3,000 square-mile] Algonquin Provincial Park. She is on a four-night "reconnaissance mission," an hour's paddle from the parking lot, to find out if she has the capability-and nerve-to one day take a real canoe trip in the park interior by herself. Paddling and portaging from her campsite by day and surviving imaginary bear attacks by night, she decides she's ready. Then a ranger arrives to check her permit, and an inexplicable, powerful intuition tells her this is the person she's meant to marry. Going solo may not be necessary after all.
But the fairy tale unravels. In the wake of a broken engagement to her One True Paddling Partner, Brenda ventures into the near wilderness on a series of solo canoe trips that blow all her perceptions of romance, relationships, God, and her own self (gently) out of the water. In our high-tech, urban age, when so many people are disconnected from the natural world, Tumblehome-part spiritual memoir, part travel adventure, and great part ode to the Earth-is a timely and important exploration of where our real roots lie.
About the author
Brenda Missen is a writer and editor, active outdoors person, and author of the literary thriller Tell Anna She's Safe (2011). Her personal essays and short stories have appeared in newspapers, outdoor magazines, and anthologies. She lives in Ontario's Madawaska Highlands with her dog, Maddy, near Algonquin Provincial Park, her "canoeing home." Her memoir, Tumblehome recounts both her canoeing adventures in the Canadian wilderness as well as her own personal transformation.
"I hate camping, but I loved this book. It is a cleverly structured hymn to the healing power of earth and animals, sky and water, solitude and stillness; a spiritual journey of the soul to the self; and a love story of a most unconventional sort. All in all, as memoir, travel guide, adventure, prayer, and love story, a very satisfying read.",br>Jan Rehner, author of The House of Izieu and Almost True
"Almost allegorical in scope, Tumblehome sparkles with humanity."
Joseph Kertes, award-winning author of Gratitude and The Afterlife of Stars
"Brenda Missen, a self-described "keen canoeist," has been a pilgrim of solitude. She has entered a world in which language has not yet been born and offers us the gift of her memoir, Tumblehome."
Diana Beresford-Kroeger, author of To Speak for the Trees: My Life's Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest
"Tumblehome, Brenda Missen's compelling memoir, is the story of one woman's canoeing adventures in the Canadian wilderness. Yet it is simultaneously a profound meditation on the complexities of human relationships, our common interface with the natural world, and a journey of spiritual transformation. In its pages, it is as if Annie Dillard meets the Taoist sage Lao Tzu. In Brenda, explorer, writer, and spiritual seeker converge in the telling. From the first line "My paddle mines for diamonds that sparkle on the wind-riffled lake"to the last, Missen cups us in the palm of her hands. As Brenda comes to trust her spiritual mentor Asante, to whom the book is dedicated, so readers can trust Brenda to gently open their hearts and minds to their own interior depths where "joy is [our] birthright and we are the diamonds we seek."
Susan McCaslin, author of Into the Open: Poems New and Selected
"Tumblehome takes us on an intimate journey into an emotional, spiritual, and physical wilderness where fears are overcome, relationships scrutinized, and enlightenment sought. A canoe trip with many twists and challenges, by the end I truly felt that I had forest-bathed with Missen."
Becky Mason, canoe Instructor, filmmaker, writer and artist