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Book | A Wilder Life by Celestine Maddy with Abbye Churchill



“The first hint of spring makes you rejoice. The snow begins to melt away. The sun becomes less of a savior from bitter winds and freezing fingers, an more of a cheerful companion ushering us into a bountiful season.”

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? It is the title and first paragraph of the Spring chapter in a wonderful new book that I found last week: A Wilder Life – A Season-by-Season guide to Getting in Touch with Nature, by Celestine Maddy with Abbye Churchill (© 2016 by Wilder Media). I just had to share it with you!




I was walking around  another recent discovery here in Napa, Oxbow Public Market (I will cover this in a future post), and this book called to me from the display table of a little book store inside the market. Cover and title were pretty much irresistible. I had to pick it up and have a closer look. Filled with beautiful photography, the book takes you through the seasons while providing helpful advice, inspiration, recipes, tips and even check lists that facilitate living a life in deeper connection with nature, even if all you have is a little backyard.




Each season has its own chapter, which is divided into sub-chapters titled Growing, Cooking, Home & Self-Reliance, Beauty & Healing, and Wilderness. Just to summarize a little, in spring you will learn how to grow from seed, learn the basics of cheese making, make dyes using natural ingredients, make a herbal tincture, and find water in the wild.

In summer you will learn how to identify and handle garden pests, create a night-blooming garden, composting, how to blend your own perfume, and the basics of canning – including a recipe for an all-purpose tomato sauce.

The fall chapter will take you through understanding the properties of soil, saving seeds, making pumpkin butter, heating and cooling your home without electricity, how to build an outdoor shelter, and preparing your home for the season.

In the winter chapter you will learn how to grow a winter garden, make kimchi at home, help the common birds in your area thrive, make a calendula balm and exploring hot springs.

Aren’t you hooked yet? Because there is lots more, as these are just some of the topics covered by the book.




I went through the book from cover to cover, all two-hundred-and-seventy-two pages of it, and I know this book will remain on my reference bookshelf for a long time to come. Then I reached the last page, where a short piece about the authors led me to discover that this book is not a stand alone, but yields from a magazine called Wilder. Wilder, or Wilder Quarterly, is a bi-annual publication that is structured like the book and is just as beautiful. The authors of the book are also the creators of the magazine: Celestine Maddy as the founder and publisher, and Abbye Churchill as the editorial director.




“Wilder, the magazine, began in 2011 as a place to connect the dots between twenty-first century living and the slow pace of the great outdoors. Over the years of publishing the magazine, we have redefined the conversation to focus on the growing an natural world. And A Wilder Life is a companion to that experience.”  – from the introduction to A Wilder Life.




It is now the beginning of a new season, the perfect time to discover all this book has to offer. When I find the right place to put down roots, I will have my own home and garden again. In the meantime I will enjoy the gardens of others whenever possible, and practice whatever my current nomadic lifestyle allows, even if that is just going for a hike and absorbing the beauty of nature. Then there is Shinrin-Yoku of course, and time spent in the blessed forest.


You can find a copy of A Wilder Life at you local indie book store, or purchase it online from various retailers: Amazon and Amazon UK, of course, but also Barnes & Noble, Indigo (Canada), Booktopia (Australia), and Book Depository (worldwide). I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.


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  • Nicole Daspit03/23/2016 - 11:44 pm

    This looks like a book I need to have!! Thanks for sharing:)ReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz03/24/2016 - 12:28 pm

      You are very welcome, Nicole! Thank you for stopping by the blog. In the meantime, I found another one on Amazon that I am loving: The Herbal Apothecary, by JJ Pursell. JJ has a wonderful Herb Shoppe in Portland, and I plan to visit in in the fall, maybe attend a workshop or two because I really like her approach to working with herbs. <3ReplyCancel

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