The autumnal equinox is right around the corner, which means we’ve all got a few more weeks of summer to catch up on good prose. Here, then, in no particular order, are three of our favorite reads from the last few weeks.
Travel stories come in all shapes and sizes. Case in point: Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s recent essay for TIME about Singlish, a spoken language in Singapore that blends English, Mandarin, Malay, and various Chinese dialects. While the piece is pegged to promote Tan’s first novel, it also is a paean to modern-day Singapore and a linguistic battle that has unfolded between old-timers who speak English and younger generations who yearn to connect with cultural traditions of the past. Over the course of 1,000 words, Tan (a friend and former college classmate) includes fascinating data and thoughtful sentimentality. The result: a story that informs and inspires, just like every great travel narrative.
Few spin tales as masterfully as Peter Fish, former travel editor of Sunset magazine. His recent piece for Marin magazine about Point Reyes National Seashore is no exception. The story celebrates the national park about an hour north of San Francisco—a swath of protected land known for hiking, whale-watching in spring, and kayaking on Tomales Bay. It also acknowledges some of the challenges facing the park—namely the question of whether to continue allowing limited ranching in the area as park service officials have done for decades. Perhaps the best part of the piece is the beginning, in which the author needs only four sentences to describe morning on the park’s Estero Trail—the simplicity says it all.
There are an estimated 76,000 moose in Maine, and Stephen Humphries’s recent feature for American Way magazine chronicles his quest to see one in the wild. The engaging story takes readers along with the author and his wife on a formal “moose safari.” Fittingly, this particular quest is held in the Moosehead Lake area of the state, about 100 miles northwest of Bangor. Most of the group’s searching takes place via canoe; in the end, they do find one. But the magic of the story happens in the journey itself—a saga during which the urban-dwelling Humphries manages to slow down. The transformation is wonderful to behold. To be frank, it’s an experience we all could use every now and then.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications includingTIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur,and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com
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