Sue Leaf, Portage: A Family, a Canoe, and the Search for the Good Life (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press) 2015.

family canoe good life
This delightful collection of stories of canoe trips is remarkable in that it is not some grand adventure book about impossible trips. It is a book about what real people can do to enjoy the outdoors and to live the paddling life. There is a bit of ecology, a bit of natural history, a bit of travel guidebook, a bit of a bird guidebook, and a bit of camp cookbook. The various trips are the kind of trips that I could imagine myself taking with my family and others. Even the troubles that they find are manageable and the kind of things that people like me get into and get out of in the course of our camping and canoeing adventures.

Like all families, theirs has a few missed opportunities, a few mistakes, and a lot of good choices. The fact that the author waited to write until after a lifetime of adventures really adds to the value of the volume. It is essential a collection of good essays about canoe trips that have been taken and adventures that have been shared. The concluding remarks about the value of water and the dangers of development is especially poignant because of the lifetime of adventuring from which her perspective has grown.

This is a very easy read, a very fun book, and one to which I can imagine myself returning again and again.