On a recent Tuesday evening in Santa Fe, a handful of people gathered at Collected Works Bookstore to hear Dylan Tomine read from his new book, Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family’s Year on the Water, in the Woods and at the Table. It was one of the first really cold nights of the season and half a dozen members of the audience were clad in sheepskin and down. Tomine, a father of two from Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, Washington, showed up in standard Pacific Northwest attire: a crinkly, bright blue rain jacket. Every so often, he'd interrupt himself to take a big swig of water and say, “I’ve never felt so dry in my whole life.”
Tomine and his family are avid adventurers, but their sport of choice isn’t climbing or paddling, cycling or surfing. It’s foraging. In all weather and seasons, they take to their motorboat, the local beaches, forests, and trails to hunt for crabs, king salmon, razor clams, chanterelle mushrooms, oysters, and blackberries. Listening to someone describe the outrageous edible bounties of the Pacific Northwest while landlocked in the high desert is a little surreal, to say the least, and the experience was much like that of reading Tomine's book: Saltwater seemed to drip from every word; I could taste the brine in the pages.