The Road to Appledore by Tom Wayman

In his memoir The Road to Appledore, or How I Went Back to the Land Without Ever Having Lived There in the First Place, Tom Wayman explores the highs and lows of rural living. Wayman, whose past jobs have included a variety of blue – and white – collar roles as well as post-secondary teaching, is also an author of poetry, essays, and fiction. The Road to Appledore is smoothly written, and Wayman is not afraid to explore his own foibles as he depicts his experiences residing on a just-under-nine-acre rural property in British Columbia’s Slocan Valley.

The book is arranged thematically rather than chronologically, so at times, there are jumps backward and forward along the timeline of Wayman’s life. The thematic approach suits the book, and seemed to be a good choice of structure.

Having lived rurally, I could identify with Wayman’s trepidation while watching the well-drillers at work (they will hit water eventually, won’t they?), the joys and trials of heating with wood, and the challenges of gardening so close to nature, when furred and feathered denizens might also wish to benefit from the fruits of one’s labors. Though my rural living experiences have been based in Ontario, Wayman’s descriptions of country life in British Columbia resonated with me, and I expect they will with other readers. Wayman’s descriptions of the local terrain were also of interest. Wayman provides grounded descriptions of the changing seasons, the cycle and rhythms of his life, and the pleasures of exploring the natural environment in a canoe, on a bike, on cross-country skis, or on foot.

While much of The Road to Appledore is outward-looking, the book contains introspective portions as well. Wayman is candid in sharing his relationship struggles, and what he learns about himself on his journey through life. Perhaps it’s my human resources background, but one of the more interesting sections for me was Wayman’s description of what he learned about negotiation techniques and approaches while he helped shape the first collective agreement for faculty and staff at the Kootenay School of the Arts. Some of the advice provided by the staff representative for the College-Institute Educators Association seemed like it might be helpful for navigating any potentially contentious situation.

Written by someone who clearly respects and appreciates the natural world, The Road to Appledore might well appeal to a broad range of people. Particularly, those who have lived rurally may find some resonance in Wayman’s observations, triumphs, and struggles, while those who are contemplating a move to the country will get a sense of what might lie ahead. When it comes to life in general, there is much to be learned from the experiences of others, particularly when they are shared with candor, as Wayman does in The Road to Appledore.

Tom Wayman’s prolific literary career includes writing more than twenty poetry collections, three collections of critical and cultural essays, three books of short fiction and a novel, as well as editing six poetry anthologies. He received British Columbia’s 2022 George Woodcock Award for Lifetime Achievement in the literary arts. In 2015, he was named a Vancouver Literary Landmark, with a plaque on the city’s Commercial Drive commemorating his championing of people writing for themselves about their daily employment. His own work life involved a range of blue- and white-collar jobs across North America, including teaching in both alternative and mainstream post-secondary institutions. He won the Western Canada Jewish Book Awards prize for fiction in 2016 (for the short story collection, The Shadows We Mistake for Love) and for poetry in 2023 (for Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back: Poems for a Dark Time). Wayman lives in Winlaw, BC, and his website is www.tomwayman.com.

Publisher: Harbour Publishing (May 4, 2024)
Paperback 6″ x 9″ | 312 pages
ISBN: 9781990776632

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Lisa Timpf is a retired HR and communications professional who lives in Simcoe, Ontario. Her writing has appeared in New Myths, Star*Line, The Future Fire, Triangulation: Habitats, and other venues. Lisa’s speculative haibun collection, In Days to Come, is available from Hiraeth Publishing. You can find out more about Lisa’s writing at http://lisatimpf.blogspot.com/.