Living Snoqualmie’s Regional Reads: Gail Folkins Light in the Trees

[Guest Post by Lynda Lahman]

How much does where we live define us? Is homesickness about a sense of place or the people we miss?

For Snoqualmie resident and author Gail Folkins, it’s the land, the sights, the smells, and the memories they evoke that resonate deeply within her.

In her book of essays, “Light in the Trees,” she ‘…offers a small-town viewpoint of the Pacific Northwest. Sasquatch myths and serial killer realities, a runaway Appaloosa, and turbulent volcanoes beneath serene mountaintops help chronicle a coming of age for both a narrator and a place.’

Growing up in Issaquah before the booming of Seattle, Gail’s stories interweave the area’s history with her tales of exploring the woods surrounding the family home.

A memoir of home, nature, and change in the American West, Light in the Trees makes cultural and environmental topics personal through a narrator’s travels between past and present, rural and urban.’

For those who have been in the area for years, her stories will evoke images and tales that may have receded from memory. At the same time, for those new to the Eastside, they are a reminder that what is now busy with traffic, stores, and people, was not very long ago the sleepy village of Issaquah.

The eruption of Mount St Helens, the creepiness of Ted Bundy, and the myths of Bigfoot are more than headlines in the paper, and those who have hiked the Issaquah Alps may recognize some of the landmarks Gail explored as a child.

Moving to Texas, where she completed her Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing, Gail was introduced to a new perspective of place. Devoid of constant moisture and filled with wide expanses, the landscape deepened her appreciation for the ‘challenges of the natural world, from wildlife habitat and water quality to a changeable climate and wildfires, navigating new versions of home and self along the way.’

Missing the rain, the mountains, and the greenery, she and her husband John decided to return north, this time to Snoqualmie, ‘a new place to explore.’ John’s occupation and passion is music, whether repairing or rebuilding wood instruments and playing in a local band, Cascade Jazz.

Together, they enjoy the walkability of being close to downtown and the warm, friendly people they meet, as well as being surrounded by nature everywhere they turn…the river, the trees, and the Cascades.

Gail’s previous book, a non-fiction work, was inspired by her time in the Southwest, “Texas Dance Halls: A Two-Step Circuit.” She has published several essays, including “A Palouse Horse,” a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays, 2010.

Currently, she is working on a horse-themed young adult novel and teaches creative non-fiction writing through Hugo House in Seattle. When not working her day job for a local city or sitting in front of her computer, she can be found riding her horse Tesoro on the trails in the Valley or finding new places to hike throughout the Cascades. Her website, gailfolkins.com, offers further details of her writing and teaching.

[Lynda is a mental-skills coach for athletes, having retired after a thirty-plus year career as a family therapist. She is an avid traveler, hiker, motorcyclist, and the first person to finish the 11-day Iron Butt Rally twice as pillion and twice on a solo bike. She’s the author of five books, including ‘The Women’s Guide to Motorcycling’ and her most recent, ‘The Story: of Love, Loss, and Memories.’ Lynda lives in Snoqualmie and is currently working on improving her pickleball and golfing skills.]

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