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A Wilder Life

Print magazine Wilder Quarterly guides readers back to nature in their first book

by Nara Shin
on 03 February 2016

Since launching in 2011, Wilder Quarterly has been rousing genuine excitement about growing and gardening in people who typically encounter more software bugs than the natural kind. Nearly five years later, the print magazine (now on a bi-annual publishing schedule and dropping the "Quarterly" from its name) has put together its first book, "A Wilder Life." It's a beautiful guide that doesn't overwhelm or bore, and is something we would return to regularly. Most importantly, it doesn't require you to drop everything and move out of the city to the middle of nowhere. Instead, the 272-page book encourages readers, in uncomplicated steps, to make the most of what every season uniquely offers.

It's easy to get lost in the internet and it's just as simple to get close to nature

As the new VP of Marketing for Reddit, Celestine Maddy (who co-authors the book along with Wilder's editorial director Abbye Churchill) is well-aware of how difficult it can be to feel connected with the outdoors when our lives revolve so heavily around the digital realm; it's the reason why she founded Wilder in the first place. She advises on how to make space for what's right in front of our face: "Between roaming the internet and Netflix binge sessions, everyone has the time to take a walk. Everyone has a second to water the herbs growing on your windowsill or wander through your city's botanical garden on a Saturday afternoon. It's just a matter of reminding yourself how good it feels to be outside, with your hands in dirt or gazing at the night sky. It's easy to get lost in the internet and it's just as simple to get close to nature.”

Organized by seasons, the book offers intro guides to raising and using plants, from starting a garden of native species to "forcing" vegetables in the fall (which translates to growing them outside their normal season) and making an herbal tincture. Much of "A Wilder Life" focuses on building self-reliance. For instance, instead of buying dry shampoo at a store, there's a simple recipe for making your own. Limit dependence on heat and A/C by following their home tips to keep indoor temperatures stable. Then there are the fun, inspirational two-pagers, from "Five Hikes of a Lifetime" to "Phenomena That Light Up the Natural World" that remind us how incredible the outdoors can be (probably a more rewarding feeling in the longterm than the thrill of sharing a hilarious Vine). Overall, "A Wilder Life"—with its easy-to-read, easy-to-follow guides—successfully persuades the reader that nature isn't an intimidating abstraction. Balance is possible and you can have the best of all your worlds.

Find "A Wilder Life" on Amazon for $20.

"Seasonal Apothecary" excerpted from "A Wilder Life" by Celestine Maddy and Abbye Churchill (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Illustrations by Holly Exley, all other book images by Cool Hunting

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