Some of you may know this already, but I’m slightly obsessed with the idea of having a seaweed farm. I’ve been known to corner people at office parties and tell them about it (sounds like a punishment right?), and it’s a bit of an office joke that I may one day go AWOL to start a farm. I regularly search for up-to-date articles about the emerging movement in California and wait anxiously to see if any updated legislation will make it a bit easier for farmers.  

The hilarious part about this is that I abhor the taste of fish, seaweed, and really anything that comes out of the water. In addition, I get EXTREMELY motion sick, in boats especially. So the reality of me being the one working a seaweed farm is pretty much nil. Seaweed and I are like star-crossed lovers, but I’m determined to win in the end. 

That’s why my mom immediately told me when she came across the book Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge, by Susan Hand Shetterly, in a list about smart new summer reading books. I got it the very next day. 

I don’t normally love hardbacks, but I simply couldn’t wait for a paperback version. And since it’s a compact book, it worked perfectly.

I’ve now read Seaweed Chronicles twice. Once for myself, and once aloud to my dad in the hospital while he recovered from his Whipple Procedure. I enjoyed it thoroughly both times and will probably eventually read it again. 

I’m going to start by saying that the book is not at all what I was expecting. It’s not about seaweed farming, but rather about the harvesting of wild seaweed, and how that’s changing and morphing the coastal community in Maine. But it’s also about a lot more too. Beautifully written and gorgeously visual in her descriptions, Shetterly paints a moving picture of our oceans—specifically the Atlantic coast, which I’m pretty unfamiliar with. Looking up unfamiliar seaweed, fish, birds, and other coastal life and passing around the iPad in the hospital room took a good amount of time. So did rating said wildlife on the ugly/beautiful scale. Some fish are decidedly ugly (still cool though).

I’m not going to say much more about the book, except that I encourage you to read it—and please report back when you do. It combines history, wildlife, conservation, and job security in a thoughtful, meaningful discussion about our responsibility to our coast and coastal communities. The bottom line? I want to be part of that discussion. 

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