To the Woods
Evelyn Searle Hess
2011 WILLA Award in Creative Nonfiction
To the Woods is a tale of adventure, inspiration, and living life in concert with nature. It is the true story of Evelyn Searle Hess, who, in her late fifties, walks away from the world of modern conveniences to build a new life with her husband on twenty acres of wild land in the foothills of Oregon's Coast Range.
To the Woods tracks the natural history of place through the seasons. It describes Hess's day-to-day challenges, from living in a trailer without electricity or indoor plumbing to excavating a pond to dealing with health crises. It explores the joys of living simply, building a relationship with the natural world, and awakening to the interconnectedness of all life.
Hess's careful attention to detail, her extensive knowledge of local flora and fauna, and her thoughtful philosophical meditations add richness to her engaging prose. To the Woods will appeal to readers interested in the environment and sustainable living, and to anyone who has ever considered fleeing the city for a life closer to nature.
About the author
Evelyn Searle Hess lives in the foothills of southern Oregon’s Coast Range. At various times a teacher, greenhouse manager, gardener, garden designer, and a native-plant nursery owner, along with being a mother, grandmother, and now great grandmother, she currently weeds, writes, and tries to put up her garden produce before the critters get it. In spare moments she helps husband David with their life project, building a house. Hess’s previous book To the Woods (OSU Press, 2010), won the 2011 WILLA Literary Award for Best Creative Nonfiction.
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“[Hess’s] wry glances at the human spirit and the complex ways of humans and other animals make To the Woods another in OSU [Press’s] astounding list of strong, quirky works by local voices.”
"Evelyn Hess's enterprise, it seems to me, is one of Thoreauvian simplicity. She and her husband, at considerable age, with humility and pluck, lived many years in a way that shows us possibilities we haven't imagined for ourselves."
—John Daniel, author of The Far Corner and Rogue River Journal