“Who did you go with?” Is a common question to me after a trip or adventure. Invariably my answer is “no-one.” If I waited for someone to go with then I would never have gone anywhere. In adventuring, as with my profession, I refuse to let my gender prevent me from doing what I want. A sentiment shared by all the contributors to Waymaking. This book is a collection of poems, stories, photos, paintings and drawings by women who experience the outdoors. It’s inspiring to read their tales - to hear that others share my restless energy - and read of challenges to aspire to. A number of the pieces are genderless - take away the pronouns and the author and the story wouldn’t gain or lose anything. Tara Kramer’s Lost in the Light - about working in Antarctica - the whiteness, the lightness - is vividly descriptive and extraordinary. Perhaps equally extraordinary had it been written by a man (although most would agree that the barriers Kramer likely encountered simply by virtue of gender make her story even more incredible).
Other stories are palpably feminine. Leslie Hsu Oh - who “rests gently [her camera] on the wispy black locks of our five-month-old” as she watches her other children learning to climb - is a very open account of mothering and being mothered. She highlights the loving education that her adoptive mother has given her about the natural world. And we watch with her as daughter Kyra takes instruction to improve her climbing. What better gift can you give your children than the confidence and knowledge to enjoy the outdoors?
Western society stands are the doors of equality. We know what’s wrong, mostly, but we haven’t fixed it yet. All the contributors to Waymaking help us step forward, normalise women’s behaviour in the outdoors, create expectations of equality and foster the next generation to accept equality as the norm. Beautiful art of all kinds demonstrating that there are no boundaries.
I have to confess that I read Waymaking on my ancient and battered Kindle while travelling. This meant that I couldn’t appreciate the visual art as it would have been intended. If anyone wants to lend me a hard copy let me know!
What did you think of the book? What do you think about women adventuring? Comment below!