Inverness Almanac: a biased review from a contributor

The first volume of the Inverness Almanac moved me on a number of levels. The publishers, a group that coalesced around a dear friend of mine, curated such a delicious collection of photographs and drawings and writings and maps and recipes and seasonal markers! And then they pulled it all together into a stunningly beautiful package, a book that is a work of art in and of itself.

I had been visiting West Marin since before my birth, appreciating its topography and ecology since I’ve been a conscious human, and living there for years when they released Volume 1. And yet the sense of place conveyed within this Almanac opened my eyes to my surroundings in a completely different way. It was as if my powers of observation had been magnified. Everything seemed different, more luminous, containing so much more to discover if I could sit still long enough — or return frequently enough — to receive it.

That first Almanac also shook awake my writer’s muscle. I found myself unable to pass through the landscape without composing works that wanted to find their place among other contributions, and I vowed to submit something to the next Volume. Perhaps the San Andreas fault poem that seemed to be writing itself every time I entered Olema Valley? Or a drivers’ guide to Bolinas Lagoon, sharing my favorite seasonal points of interest?

Two submission deadlines passed and I still hadn’t completed anything. When they announced that Volume 4 would be the last, I knew I had to get on it! The poem wasn’t ready yet and the driving guide never quite worked, but I did manage to send over an exchange of letters (not selected, I’ll post them at some point), along with two historical articles I had found describing long-ago efforts to develop Bolinas as a petroleum drilling site.

I am so honored that the editors invited me to contribute an original introduction to go along with these articles in the final, gorgeous Inverness Almanac — Volume 4. In that brief essay, I explain how I came to first hear about the “gas light” that once burned on Duxbury Reef; I also share my vision for what such a light might represent now, in an age when it could be the adoring visitors themselves, rather than oil rigs, whose extractive use of West Marin may be cause for concern.

The historical articles I found are fascinating to see in their original context but there wasn’t a way to include them in the Almanac, so I’m sharing the links to them here:

  1. Scientific American issue Vol 92 No 15, April 15, 1905: Liquid Fuel Burner
  2. Popular Mechanics, Vol 9 No 8, August 1907 here

It’s a strange thing to think about how to share a local’s appreciation for a place without also somehow “ruining” it by revealing all its secrets, and I realize that even this thought process reveals a local’s sense of entitlement to a place that nobody can really lay claim to. The Inverness Almanac’s editors understand this dilemma, and miraculously manage to share the essence and magic of the Point Reyes peninsula without revealing too much. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to hold all four of the Inverness Almanacs in your hand, and to spend time with them. Better yet, buy them all, have a read, and then spend time in West Marin with your own senses of wonder and respect cracked open anew.

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