Swimming to the Top of the Tide: Finding Life Where Land and Water Meet

Debut nonfiction by Patricia Hanlon

NHPR The Exchange “Books to Read Now” selection WCAI The Point “Books About Water” Top Pick Outdoor Swimming Society “Books We Want to Read” selection

Four seasons of immersion in New England’s Great Marsh

Hingham Public Library Thursday, June 10, 2021 @ 7pm ET (virtual)
Copper Dog Books at the Beverly Farmers’ Market Monday, June 14, 2021 @ 4-6pm ET Sawyer Free Library |Wednesday, June 23, 2021 @ 7pm ET (virtual)
Book Shop of Beverly Farms Thursday, June 24, 2021 @ 6:30pm ET 

The Great Marsh is the largest continuous stretch of salt marsh in New England, extending from Cape Ann to New Hampshire. Patricia Hanlon and her husband built their home and raised their children alongside it. But it is not until the children are grown that they begin to swim the tidal estuary daily. Immersing herself, she experiences, with all her senses in all seasons, the vigor of a place where the two ecosystems of fresh and salt water mix, merge, and create new life. 

In Swimming to the Top of the Tide, Hanlon lyrically charts her explorations, at once intimate and scientific. Noting the disruptions caused by human intervention, she bears witness to the vitality of the watersheds, their essential role in the natural world, and the responsibility of those who love them to contribute to their sustainability. 

More Praise for Swimming to the Top of the Tide

“In her charming debut . . . [Hanlon] turns the quotidian details of marriage and family life into a lyrical investigation of ‘something bigger and more complex than oneself.’ . . . Merging leisurely seaside adventure with ecological sensibilities, Hanlon delivers a lyrical ode to a changing environment.” —Publishers Weekly 

“Graceful in its descriptive power. . . . Hanlon understands how our moral imagination exerts a profound influence on our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. . . . [Her] observations are as gently propulsive as the rhythmic stroke of a swim fin.” —Kirkus Reviews 

“[Hanlon] is as skilled at demystifying complex scientific concepts as she is in portraying gold-spangled waterline sunsets and muted winter compositions of marsh grasses. The whole is enriched with personal reflections on raising a family, aging, and the changing nature of marriage.” —Foreword Reviews 

“Written with a swimmer’s spirit, a naturalist’s eye, and an ecologist’s heart, this book took me to places I have never been. I loved it!” —Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to Antarctica and Swimming in the Sink 

“Hanlon’s narrative—spare and serene—flows to the rhythms of rising and falling water. Her account, rooted in the particular—nose level in a saltwater creek under the cerulean skies of an idyllic summer, or in icy slush on a dark winter night—is a timely call to consider the tragedies and possibilities of our moment.”
Deborah Cramer, author of Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our World and The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey 

“Like Wendell Berry and Rachel Carson, Hanlon is a true poet-ecologist, sharing in exquisitely resonant prose her patient observations of nature’s most intimate details. As she and her husband, through summer and snow, swim their local creeks and estuaries, we marvel at the timeless yet fragile terrain of both marshlands and marriage. This is the book to awaken all of us, right now, to how our coastline is changing and what it means for our future.” —Julia Glass, author of Three Junes and A House Among the Trees 

“There is nothing quite so wonderful as slipping into a creek and letting it carry you upstream until the tide imperceptibly turns and carries you back out toward the ocean. It is doubly wonderful to discover someone who describes this experience with such love, lyricism, and scientific curiosity. Let Patricia Hanlon be your guide to this world.” 

William Sargent, author of The House on Ipswich Marsh and Plum Island: 4,000 Years on a Barrier Beach 

“Hanlon, in a year of swimming her way through marshes, across tidal rivers and sculpted granite quarries unique to Cape Ann, observes with a remarkably steady gaze all the world has to offer—the beauty and losses both. In clear, spare prose and fine-tuned observation, she takes you on a journey you won’t soon forget.”
Tim Traver, author of Sippewissett: Or, Life on a Salt Marsh and Fly Fishing and Conservation in Vermont 

What Booksellers & Librarians Are Saying About Swimming to the Top of the Tide

Northshire Bookstore Staff Pick 

Portland Public Library Staff Pick 

“A beautiful, lyrical book.”
Becky Doherty, Northshire Bookstore (Manchester Center, VT and Saratoga Springs, NY) 

“A splendid read.” —Viana Martinez, Fountain Bookstore (Richmond, VA)
“Thoughtful and satisfying.” —Christie Olson Day, Gallery Bookshop (Mendocino, CA) 

“Hanlon lovingly explores her own stretch of the New England coast and delivers it to the reader through sun and snow. A treat.” —Amy Van Keuren, Charter Books (Newport, RI) 

About the Author

Patricia Hanlon is a visual artist who paints the beautiful ecosystem of New England’s Great Marsh and is involved in the watershed organizations of Greater Boston. Swimming to the Top of the Tide is her first book. 

• Visit the author’s website: www.patriciahanlon.com 

Saturday Clean Up, One Hour at a Time Gang

Hi kids:

I was over at the State Pier today and the trash is awful.

Time:           08:30

Date:          June 12, 2021

Where:      Jodrey State Pier

If you need yellow bags I can get them for you.  Since I still cannot drive or carry anything will not be able to participate.


Thank you for all your help


Wild Portrait: JEKSONE is #JEKS done! Golden lobster mural #GloucesterMA #ActionInc #NorthShoreCDC



Congratulations to the artist and Action Inc and all involved!

photos (right click for captions; pinch and zoom or select “full size” to enlarge): c. ryan 6/9/2021

  1. Signed [JEKS golden lobster mural, aka Brian Lewis. Muralist and street artist. Spray paint. Commission for Action Inc. Main Street, Gloucester, MA., 20210609, photograph © c ryan]
  2. Garnish [JEKS golden lobster mural, aka Brian Lewis. Muralist and street artist. Spray paint. Commission for Action Inc. Main Street, Gloucester, MA., 20210609, photograph © c ryan]
  3. [JEKS golden lobster mural, aka Brian Lewis. Muralist and street artist. Spray paint. Commission for Action Inc. Main Street, Gloucester, MA., 20210609, photograph © c ryan]
  4. Raking light makes visible finishing shield top coat. Aims to protect fading from UV damage and stymie vandalism. Golden lobster by American artist JEKS, June 2021. Photo ©c ryan
  5. Green Reef (up and over view- from Rogers St., by Gorton’s) [JEKS golden lobster mural, aka Brian Lewis. Muralist and street artist. Spray paint. Commission for Action Inc. Main Street, Gloucester, MA., 20210609, photograph © c ryan]

Gloucester Mural Map |

Sunset Clouds Over Inner Harbor

Thatcher and I took a quick drive while Finn was watching the Little League game that took place after his….there may or may not have been some Frozen Yogurt ordered from Cafe Bishco ordered that we had to wait for anyway…… The clouds over the inner harbor and their reflection on the water were kind of striking. I’m always sad when my iPhone camera doesn’t do justice.

Time Flies for Baby Birds

We visited this Great Blue Heron rookery almost 3 weeks ago and there has been quite a drop in the resident population since then. I am guessing about half the occupied nests we observed last time now appear to be empty. Despite that, the current residents provided some beautiful photo opportunities including a feeding session. The very active juvenile sized herons were enthusiastically feeding from the parent. There was a great deal of jumping and reaching on the part of the young ones and huge stores of patience from the adult. It took me a minute to take a guess as to what was going on in that nest, but feeding teenagers is never a passive kind of activity!

In the time since I prepared this post, there’s been a news story making the rounds that a BEAR was found in a nest near the top of a tree in a Great Blue Heron Rookery in Canada!! I did NOT see a bear on my visit but can only dream of getting such a picture as this! The story can be found here.

Anthony Weller Obituary

The American musician and writer, Anthony Weller, has died at age 63, as a result of complications from primary progressive MS, which he’d battled since 2006. A longtime resident of Gloucester, MA, Weller also lived on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus and in coastal Italy.

Born on September 18, 1957 in Macon, Georgia, Weller was the son of a British ballet scholar and an American war correspondent and novelist. A jazz and classical guitarist, he first studied the guitar at Phillips Exeter (class of ’75) with Walter Spalding, and began playing professionally at 18. He took a degree in music at Yale, then moved to New York, where he was active in both genres. Weller also trained extensively as a composer with Julián Orbón, and wrote works for piano, orchestra, voice, and chamber ensembles, as well as for solo guitar. He left NYC to live in Amsterdam and Paris, before settling in the Boston area.

On classical guitar Weller was a longtime disciple of the virtuoso Rey de la Torre, one of the great guitarists of the 20th century and the most eminent disciple of Miguel Llobet. He performed and taught the world over and premiered the work of composers Julián Orbón, David Erlanger, Steven Kinigstein, and Robert J. Bradshaw. He also performed with the Boston Artists Ensemble, and with flamenco guitarists Valdemar Phoenix and Peter Regis in Guitarramania. He contributed a master class and a concert to both the 2004 and 2006 Newport Guitar Festivals.

Weller’s main jazz studies were with Allen Hanlon and Ike Isaacs; he also studied with Pat Martino and Tuck Andress. A greater influence were his friendships with London guitarist John Etheridge, with whom he gave concerts in the USA and the Middle East, and with legendary solo guitarist Tommy Crook of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He regularly collaborated with Turkish Cypriot pianist Arman Ratip, playing a hybrid of jazz and Turkish folk music.

While often performing solo, Weller was also part of four prominent groups. As a member of the Jon Jarvis Trio he recorded with violinist Stéphane Grappelli and appeared in New York’s JVC Jazz Festival and at Birdland. He was a co-founder of Chamber Jazz, with trombonist Philip Swanson and reedman Michael Rossi. Starting in 1995, he was the guitarist with the trio of eminent trumpeter Herb Pomeroy. More recently he joined forces with vocalist Maggie Galloway and bassist Bob Nieske. He also performed frequently with clarinetist Billy Novick and bassist Thomas Hebb.

In all, Weller released fifteen CDs, both classical and jazz.

While in New York he began to work as a journalist, traveling extensively throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, the South Pacific, Central America, and the Caribbean. Over the years he wrote more than one hundred and fifty articles for National Geographic Traveler, The Paris Review, Forbes, GEO, The New York Times Magazine, Gourmet, and many other periodicals. He received a Lowell Thomas Award for foreign reporting in 1993.

In 1996 Marlowe & Co. published Weller’s novel, The Garden of the Peacocks; the next year they released a travel memoir of India and Pakistan, Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road: Calcutta to Khyber; and in 1998 another novel, The Polish Lover. A third novel, The Siege of Salt Cove, was published by W. W. Norton in 2004. His last published novel, The Land of Later On, appeared in 2011.

Weller edited and wrote a long essay for First into Nagasaki: The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches on Post-Atomic Japan and Its Prisoners of War (Crown, 2006, introduction by Walter Cronkite). This was the reporting by his father, George Weller, which had been blocked by censors at the time [September 1945] and thought lost to history until Anthony found copies among his late father’s papers. Acclaimed by historians, it was named by Kirkus one of the best books of the year. In 2009 Weller edited an enormous follow-up compilation for Crown of his father’s finest 1941-45 reporting, Weller’s War: A Legendary Correspondent’s Saga of World War II on Five Continents.

In 2021, Weller’s first book of poetry appeared, a set of forty sonnets to his wife, Sonnets of Death and Love, with images by artist Mary Heebner.

Weller is survived by Kylée Smith, his beloved wife of 24 years, and by a large community of friends and fans for whom his absence leaves a gap that will never be filled. The grace, determination, and courage with which he endured his cruel disease was an inspiration to all who knew him. A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please contribute in Anthony’s name to the charity of your choice.