Arts and Entertainment

Island family man finds inspiration outdoors with his kids

Island author Dylan Tomine takes a fishing trip with his two children, Weston and Skyla. - Photo courtesy of Dylan Tomine
Island author Dylan Tomine takes a fishing trip with his two children, Weston and Skyla.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Dylan Tomine

Islander Dylan Tomine has many loves. A writing career, fly fishing, his family.

In his recent book “Closer to the Ground” he puts them all together.

With his wife Stacey Lewars, the couple are raising their two children Skyla, 8, and Weston, 6, on the island.

Tomine enjoys Bainbridge for its access to the outdoors, and he wants his children to enjoy it too.

That notion was the start of “Closer to the Ground,” Tomine’s recently released book about the outdoors, family and more.

Tomine will appear at Eagle Harbor Book Co. at 7:30 p.m. Thursday,

Oct. 18 to launch the book’s tour.

“It’s a book about foraging, fishing, gardening, cooking and eating with our two small children,” Tomine said.

“On a larger scale it’s a book about gratitude,” he said.

As an enthusiast for the outdoors, Tomine understands a certain cynical attitude that can arise about the times we live in.

“This book is about being thankful for what we do have in a time of dwindling opportunities and natural resources,” he said. “A time when there is a lot wrong with the environment.”

Tomine, however, took the time to show his children what is great about the environment.

The book chronicles a year of teaching his children about everything from fishing to clam digging, foraging to cooking, and beyond.

“There is a focus on participating in these activities with children, which can be frustrating and aggravating at times, but it’s also really gratifying, and a learning process,” he said.

Tomine is the first to admit he isn’t an authority on everything he writes about in the book, and that he, too, was on a journey of learning about nature as much as his children were.

“I’m really far from being an expert on these activities. I’m not the go-to expert on foraging, or raising children,” he said. “But in a way it’s also about what I learned from the kids, more than what I taught them.”

Tomine said that through his children’s eyes he could see how nature can come, well, naturally to a young person.

Adults, on the other hand, have muted many instincts that kids adopt to more easily, such as foraging for food.

In the end, whether adding to his book or learning about the outdoors, Tomine found that it was all, simply, valuable time with his family.

“It’s very recreational for us, and a family activity,” Tomine said. “And then you have something healthy to eat for dinner, and that’s kind of a bonus.”

While Tomine centers his story around his family experience, the book branches out into deeper territory than one might expect. His family is just the starting point.

“It evolved from there into what I think addresses some big concerns,” he said. “The context for me is talking about some of the environmental conservation issues that we face that have become more urgent for me as a parent.”

“You want the experiences you have to be as good for your children,” he added. “It touches on the natural history and cultural history in this place that we live, the Puget Sound.”

The appearance at Eagle Harbor Books will be the first of many events for the book. Tomine will tour for “Closer to the Ground” through Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico and Utah. After a break, he will then head out east for another tour through New England.

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