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 

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