Thursday, May 13, 2021

David B. Williams's "Homewaters"

David B. Williams is a naturalist, author, and educator. His many books include the award-winning Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography and Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound, and reported the following:
About halfway into my chapter on kelp, page 99 features a long and playful description of the diverse animals that make their home in the kelp forests of Puget Sound. Located in Washington state between the Olympic and Cascade mountains, Puget Sound has an average depth more than ten times that of San Francisco Bay and Chesapeake Bay, clams that can live for up to 175 years, and more than 250 species of fish. It also home to more species of kelp than almost any other location in the country.

Marine nursery, safe harbor, home, and carbon source, these underwater ecosystems are as essential to the health of Puget Sound as the far better known terrestrial rainforests. Sadly, kelp forests have long been overlooked, as well as suffered from habitat degradation, climate change, and pollution. But in recent years, scientists have begun to study them and to focus on protecting and restoring these beautiful communities.

In that sense, page 99 exemplifies what I was trying to do in Homewaters. I wanted to focus on overlooked stories of people, plants, and animals and their histories in order to help modern residents understand the present and think about how to pursue a future that was healthier for the waterway’s human and more-than-human inhabitants. My chapter on the kelp forests takes me out in the field with kelp expert Tom Mumford, who gave me a Kelp 101 class on kelp ecology and cultural use. The chapter ends at a project examining how kelp might help mitigate climate change in the Sound.

As with the story of kelp, Puget Sound is at a turning point. The waterway is in better shape than it has been for decades because of our better understanding of the science and culture of all its species. We now have the opportunity to work together to create a thriving Puget Sound hospitable and accommodating to all forms of life. My hope is that Homewaters can inspire others to do so.
Visit David B. Williams's website.

The Page 99 Test: Stories in Stone.

--Marshal Zeringue