Kathleen Alcalá

The Clueless Eater

Golden Summer

July 25, 2015

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 will need to survive on Soylent Green and radioactive water."

On less dramatic days, we stand at the top of our street and wonder how long before global warming gives us waterfront property.

We are grateful to live in a place of such abundance. While my clueless eating life might seem static to some, it feels as though it is constantly changing when I write about it. People grow old and die, new discoveries show us more about our world and our place in it, new children are born. Every year, the one predictable comment is "This is not typical weather." I've heard that every year since moving to the Northwest in 1983.

This year has been unusually warm, no, hot! Breaking several records. This has called for a lot of hand-watering of my vegetable garden. At home, my husband has been watering even the big trees. Bainbridge, being an island, receives no water from snow pack. The highest point is 425 feet above sea level. All of our water comes from underground, where aquifers, or pockets in the layers of rock, hold rainwater that seeps down from the surface. No rain means no new water in the aquifer. One year might be fine, but a second year of drought would mean that some of the wells would go dry. Even now, the water level in at least one of the aquifers drops each summer, but is replenished the following winter.

As the climate warms, our maritime climate is giving way to a Mediterranean climate. Both are comfortable for humans, but thousands of plants and animals must either move north or adapt. This is happening in the ocean, too.

It's extraordinary to live in a time when climate change is so rapid that we can experience it during our limited lifetimes. If the Big One hits, as well, I guess my lifetime will go down in history.
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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
"...a mesmerizing tale... the author explores the fascinating confusions and contradictions plaguing a culture precariously poised between tradition and modernization."
"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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