Kim Trevathan, assistant professor of Writing/Communication at Maryville College, has recently published a new book. “Liminal Zones: Where Lakes End and Rivers Begin” details his various journeys to liminal zones all over the United States.
The book chronicles journeys he took over the span of six years. Starting in 2007, Trevathan set out on something of a spiritual journey. The death of his beloved canine Jasper was the catalyst for a new set of adventures.
“It’s more a book about raising questions than coming up with answers,” said Trevathan. His book is one of exploration, one where the journey trumps the destination.
Trevathan had to alter his original vision for the book. His first draft was about a single momentous trip around the nation.
“First I turned in a draft to the UT Press. One reader liked it. One hated it,” Trevathan said.
He went back to the drawing board and thought back to previous travels. Choosing the best parts, the overall structure transformed.
“The book became more a series of essays than a straightforward narrative.”
The travels are set on various rivers and lakes, and the book explores the relationship between man and water.
“Why do we remember one place and forget another?” Trevathan asks. These questions lend themselves to the experience of traveling and Trevathan found that many of his experiences were memorable, often in unexpected ways.
“I found out that a place will grab a hold of you when you don’t expect it,” Trevathan said.
One such stop involved Trevathan going for an early morning jog from his campsite to a nearby dam. During his run, a cat-like creature darted past him. Thinking it might have been a bobcat, Trevathan questioned a fellow trail walker and discovered that this creature was, in fact, a mountain lion.
Every section of the book contains different anecdotes.
“Each chapter is a narrative within itself. I think the book overall shows a progression,” Trevathan said.
The beginning of the book finds Trevathan grieving over a lost friend and traveling solo; the end finds him in good spirits and journeying with others.
Dr. Drew Crain, professor of biology at MC, joined Trevathan for a trip up Tellico Lake, a trip initiated after a brief conversation at the grocery store.
“It was cool going with someone like Drew who could name all the animals we were hearing,” Trevathan said.
Crain was not the only new companion to join in the adventure; Trevathan also recruited a new furry first mate.
German Shepherd Norman accompanied Trevathan at his book signing on May 10 at the MC bookstore. While he may be a new companion, he is certainly different from Jasper, explained Trevathan.
“Now I’d never tell Norm this, but intellectually I think the other dog was a little bit smarter,” Trevathan said. Despite being a bit more skittish than his predecessor, Norm still earns his place. “Norm is charismatic in his own way and he’s a remarkable dog.”
Out of all the stops along his journey, Trevathan’s favorite was Salmon Lake in Montana, one he found by chance. Thinking it might be a dammed reservoir, he paddled out only to discover it was a glacial lake. The serenity and beauty of this place left a lasting impact.
“I’ve tried, to go a little bit deeper into my personal relationship with nature and what nature means to people. How it affects us,” Trevathan said.
Despite its spiritual nature, the book is not always so heavy. Many of the chapters throughout the book are light-hearted.
“There’s definitely a lot of funny things in there too,” Trevathan said. Trevathan actively avoided making the book too serious. “I’m definitely not trying to preach. I’m just really trying to tell stories.”