Kathleen Alcalá

The Clueless Eater

An anchor

November 17, 2017

Tags: trees, anchor tree, cultivar, madrone, Doug fir, exposure to nature, Amazon, Bainbridge

Trees on our property
This is the northwest corner of our property, facing south.

On the far left is a cedar cultivar we planted after a hundred-foot Douglas fir fell during a windstorm, its roots weakened by laminated root rot. We were lucky that it missed the house when it fell, and a neighbor volunteered to cut it up and haul it away for firewood.

Over the next couple of years, a madrone that had been intimately involved with the Doug fir slowly died, having been partially uprooted in the fall. It never quite recovered. We had to remove it, too, and now salal has spread to occupy the space and light once occupied by those two trees. The cultivar will never get as tall as the Doug fir, but it promises to fill out and provide screening from the street.

West of the salal is a younger madrone, leaning for the light, (more…)

Golden Summer

July 25, 2015

Tags: Sustainability, Bainbridge, The Big One, summer, local food

Golden Summer

As we feast on Copper River salmon, roasted vegetables and fresh greens from our community garden, followed by rhubarb and ice cream, I say, "We will remember this after the 9.2 earthquake takes out everything west of the Cascades. All the old people who survive will be shipped to the Midwest, where they (more…)

Starvation Foods

March 9, 2015

Tags: Starvation, history, winter foods, white beans, kale, black tree lichen, Bainbridge, sustainable

I ate the evidence, but here are the ingredients!
Late winter and early spring are an iffy time in the northwest. We had record-breaking high temperatures for February, while much of the east coast shivered beneath a blanket of snow.

Historically, early spring has been an unpredictable time. Rather than in the dead of winter, this is when indigenous people were most likely (more…)

Clean berries and dirty carrots

July 14, 2014

Tags: garden, sustainability, island, Bainbridge, carrots, berries, Minedoka

Clean berries and dirty carrots
It is that time of the season when, if you are in the right place at the right time, someone will hand you a bag of beet greens. Or a handful of berries. Or leave a dozen fat oysters at your back door!

It took four to five months to reach this point, but every cloudy day, every seed that refused to sprout, every insect, is forgiven when we bite into a salad of our own growing. (more…)

Happy Vegetarian New Year!

January 24, 2014

Tags: vegetarian, pescetarian, Molly Katzen, The Heart of the Plate, Japanese American, Woody Allen, Kokon Taiko, rice, cholesterol, sustainability, Bainbridge, Mochi Tsuki, Lunar New Year

I’ve been meaning to write a New Year’s entry! I guess I haven’t missed the lunar New Year, which is Friday, January 31. Each year Mochi Tsuki, held at Islandwood, an environmental education center, attracts more visitors. This year it was held on January 5.

Sweet rice was steamed over a hot fire (more…)

A Walk in the Park

July 10, 2013

Tags: Bloedel Reserve, trees, nature, Bloedel, gardens, timber barons, Bainbridge

The Bloedels saw nature as something too strong and rough to be experienced without the filter of a human sensibility
In the cool of a day predicted to get very hot, we walked through a gentle forest. Birds called and squirrels chittered at the small groups of visitors strolling carefully groomed paths.

The Bloedel Reserve was started in 1950 by Prentice Bloedel, son of timber baron Julius Harold Bloedel. Julius made a fortune harvesting (more…)

Some Trees

June 5, 2013

Tags: Turkey, trees, Bainbridge, protest, standing there, woman in red, E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

A Douglas Fir in my neighborhood.
It all started with a few trees, a very few trees, but some of the last in the heart of the city. Protesters tried to block demolition of the little park, only to be met with violence.

These are not tree-huggers in California, or other occupants of the “landof the free,” who might seem to have too much time on their hands. These are people who live in Turkey, (more…)

The Salish Sea II

February 3, 2013

Tags: Food, salmon, canoe people, Suquamish, Bainbridge, sustainable living, Salish Sea

Around the island.
We were about fifteen feet above the water, too high to see what canoe people see. A group of Bainbridge Islanders circumnavigated the island last summer in the Virginia V, an old ferry that has been restored and now serves as a tour boat. Our guide was Dennis Lewarch, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (more…)
With Cowichan Elder Hyamiciate, Della (Rice) Sylvester at the The Living Breath of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ Indigenous Foods and Ecological Knowledge Symposium

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Selected Works

Creative nonfiction, memoir, environmental sustainability.
Combining memoir, historical records, and a blueprint for sustainability, The Deepest Roots shows us how an island population can mature into responsible food stewards and reminds us that innovation, adaptation, diversity, and common sense will help us make wise decisions about our future. And along the way, we learn how food is intertwined with our present but offers a path to a better understanding of the future.
Creative Nonfiction
Essays on Family and Writing

The Desert Remembers My Name makes an important contribution to discussions of ethnicity, identity, and the literature of place.”
Bloomsbury Review
Fiction
"...a mesmerizing tale... the author explores the fascinating confusions and contradictions plaguing a culture precariously poised between tradition and modernization."
Booklist
"She never forgot the power of storytelling as testimony."
The Utne Reader
"Kathleen Alcalá's Spirits of the Ordinary is an enthralling book..."
–Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Books

"This book entered my dreams."
–Alberto Rios
Short Fiction
"Thoroughly satisfying."
The New York Times Book Review

"By turns touching, entertaining, and surprising, and uniquely her own."
Publishers Weekly

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