Klee Wyck Jour­nal

Lou Mckee

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction - MEG NOLA

Epi­cen­ter Press (OC­TO­BER) Soft­cover $24.95 (240pp)


Mckee’s jour­nal and draw­ings finely de­pict the vast and gor­geous wild­ness of the Pa­cific North­west.

Klee Wyck Jour­nal beau­ti­fully chron­i­cles the build­ing of a cabin on the coast of the Pa­cific North­west through the yearly di­ary of author and artist Lou Mckee. Decades of trav­els to and from the re­treat off Van­cou­ver Is­land are po­et­i­cally and prag­mat­i­cally recorded, and ac­com­pa­nied by won­der­ful sketches of the flora and fauna unique to the re­gion.

A pas­sion for kayak­ing and camp­ing along the Bri­tish Columbia coast put Mckee, and her fam­ily and friends, in place to be en­tranced by a par­tic­u­larly cap­ti­vat­ing curve of beach. Mckee dreamed of build­ing a small cabin there. Even­tu­ally, thoughts be­came sketches and sketches be­came a struc­ture, one built up more and more each sum­mer. Soon the lit­tle build­ing even had a name: the Klee Wyck Cabin, in honor of Cana­dian artist Emily Carr.

In Klee Wyck Jour­nal, Mckee’s ad­mirable quest to live within na­ture is well de­tailed. To build their cabin, Mckee and her fel­low so­journ­ers used found wood from the sur­round­ing area, tak­ing each piece re­spect­fully and with grat­i­tude. The dé­cor and fur­nish­ings were ap­pro­pri­ately rus­tic—so much so that bears, mice, voles, and ravens felt com­fort­able enough to be a con­tin­u­ing and oc­ca­sion­ally in­tru­sive part of the Klee Wyck ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mckee’s jour­nal and draw­ings finely de­pict the vast and gor­geous wild­ness of the Pa­cific North­west. Be­yond lush forests of cedar and fir lies pow­er­ful wa­ter, where ot­ters, salmon, ea­gles, seals, and orca whales can be fre­quently seen. There are re­lent­less bouts of rain, and Mckee and her party need to rely upon the lo­cal cargo ship for sup­plies or for a sea-sprayed ride back to “civ­i­liza­tion.” Mckee re­lates be­ing part of the happy group at Klee Wyck as well as bravely spend­ing re­flec­tive time on her own at the iso­lated cabin.

Klee Wyck Jour­nal is a mem­o­rable ac­count of col­lec­tive ac­com­plish­ment and learn­ing from na­ture, and a tes­ta­ment to the glory of the Pa­cific North­west. Mckee’s artis­tic eye com­bined with a gen­eral pur­pose­ful­ness are also in­spir­ing for any­one’s ev­ery­day life, to look more closely at our own in­di­vid­ual land­scapes and cel­e­brate their unique beauty.

These are aching time cap­sules, and the wide range of hu­man ex­pe­ri­ences they report some­how both sat­is­fies the need for a story and sharp­ens the hunger for more.

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