Wildlife Congregations: A Priest's Year of Gaggles, Colonies and Murders by the Salish Sea
By: Laurel Dykstra
ISBN: 978-0-88839-753-9 [Trade Paperback]
ISBN: 978088839-756-0 [eBook]
Binding: Trade Paper
Size: 5.5" X 8.5"
Publication Date: 2023
A naturalist-priest documents a year of spiritual encounters with large gatherings of wild creatures in the lower Fraser watershed. These local low-tech adventures with a run of spawning salmon, a siege of nesting herons, a colony of bats in a heritage house, a gaggle of geese, a murder of crows, 1000 sea lions with bad breath and more are an antidote to interspecies loneliness in this age of extinction. A moving testament to both the fragility and resilience of a bioregion impacted by our current climate crisis, the book offers entry points for all kinds of readers. Dykstra twines together accessible natural history, love of language, the history of saints and clerics in the natural sciences, and gratuitous detours into the weird and wonderful: gay bat sex, exploding caterpillars, and the colonization history of bird poop. Each chapter includes a wealth of resources, from field guides to fiction, for nature enthusiasts of all ages.
Laurel Dykstra is an Anglican priest, environmental activist, and amateur naturalist who lives in the lower Fraser watershed on Coast Salish territory with a haphazard queer family and a cat who looks like bad taxidermy. Laurel leads Salal + Cedar, a tiny church that worships outdoors. Writing from Laurel includes books, articles, and anthologies mostly at the intersection of the Bible and social action with occasional helpings of parenting and racial justice.
“We have been longtime allies using prayer as the backbone of our work. I encourage people to read this and see why we love and protect everything that has a spirit which we are all connected to."
— Reuben George, Grandson of Chief Dan George, Tsleil Waututh First Nation
“Is there a special sort of loneliness, an emptiness in the human soul, caused by our loss of engagement with massive gatherings of animals? Join Dykstra on a quest for close-up experiences of gaggles, colonies, & murders. Be forewarned, you may be inspired to do some traipsing of your own."
— Lynne Quarmby, Molecular Biologist & Biochemist Author of Watermelon Snow: Science, Art, and a Lone Polar Bear
“I love the playful lyricism of this book, combined with its soulful reflectivity. The words beautifully articulate a collective experience of our time: awe for the abundance and flourishing of nature, and the grief of irreparable loss. Laurel shares remarkable learnings from communing with nature, whether it be the joy of parent and child encountering 1000 sea lions, or reflecting on the loss of tens of thousands of shorebirds that we no longer see with the rapid decline of bird populations. Terms of Venery conveys a powerful message: reconnecting with diverse ecosystems can motivate us to defend them."
— Brigette de Pape , Rogue Page and climate activist