Leigh Ann Henion had always thrived on exploring new places. Then came motherhood. “Travel to far-flung lands?” she writes in her memoir Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World. “Once I had a baby, I considered myself lucky to make it to the grocery store before it was time for bed.” Eventually, though, her new identity leads her on a new kind of journey: “Children have the capacity to marvel over simple things in nature,” she writes. “Couldn’t exploring just a few of the earth’s most dazzling natural phenomena . . . make the world similarly new again, reawakening that sort of wonder within me?” And wouldn’t that, she reflects, ultimately make her a better parent? Thus begins an “epic quest for wonder” that takes her to a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico, a lake in Venezuela where lightning storms rage nightly, lava-spewing volcanoes in Hawaii, and other sites where some of nature’s most incredible mysteries play out. In this excerpt, Henion witnesses the northern lights above the Arctic Circle.
Reviewed by Sierra Club www.sierraclub.org