Comox Island-based writer Kim Letson has penned her first book, entitled “Pomegranates at 4800 Metres”, and is currently touring it around B.C., including stops in Cranbrook, Golden and Fernie.
The book, says Letson, is about journeys.
“Journeys can be in the traditional sense of when you think about travelling from one place to another, but journeys can also be more internal journeys,” she said. “So the pivotal journey in this book is my husband dying of brain cancer.”
The book is divided into the life Letson and her family had before the diagnosis — travelling and adventuring, and then the process of losing a husband and father, and life afterwards.
“The book discusses our wonderful life before that happened. We retired fairly early, we were in the Canadian Armed Forces and we retired fairly early so we could raise our kids on Vancouver Island and live the life.”
They spent their time skiing snowboarding, working as professional ski patrollers and owning and operating a little kayak guiding company.
“There’s several chapters about kayaking and the kayaking chapters are kind of harrowing stories of storms and dumping in surf, all sorts of adventures. There’s a chapter about a family vacation when we camped in Mexico for about three months, the kids were really quite small and they thought we were homeless, which we weren’t.”
After her husband’s passing, Letson began travelling extensively.
The book documents her time spent teaching in a rural village in Tanzania and there are several chapters about her adventures in Nepal.
These include attending a Buddhist funeral as her guide’s mother died and she had to accompany his children to the funeral, and another story about being adopted into a sherpa family.
She said that the writing about her husband’s illness and death was “extremely difficult,” but was cathartic as well.
She kept a journal tracking the illness and used that as a reference point. Her two sons have been supportive through the writing process, but one of them can’t yet bring himself to read the chapters.
“It’s very, very emotional. Their dad was just an incredible dad,.He was a search and rescue tech, he spent his adult life saving people’s lives and then no one could save his, it was a real tragedy. He had just turned 52, he died on Valentines Day.”
Letson says that she’s been told that nobody has made it through those chapters dry eyed yet, and that the book as a whole is a real page turner. Kimberley’s Bruce Kirkby said, “At times gut-wrenching, at times spell binding, this heartfelt memoir is a powerful reminded or the heights to which curiosity, kindness and bravery can carry us.”
The book ends with her experience trekking across the deserts of Morocco, with two bedouin guides and some camels.
“That’s where the book ends,” she said. “Because the nomad that we’re walking with realizes that we too have a nomadic spirit and that’s the beginning of the next book which is called Soul of a Nomad.”
Letson plans to finish Soul of a Nomad by next year and be back on tour again with it. Her tour for Pomegranates has taken her through Kelowna, Penticton, Nelson, Fernie and she is now the way to Golden, then Revelstoke, Kamloops and then home to Comox.
She said her experience in Cranbrook has been a highlight of the trip so far.
“Erin at Huckleberry Books has been very generous in her enthusiasm and Crystal and Jim here at the Lazy Bear Lodge have just been so welcoming. Just really wonderful, so I very much appreciated that.”
Pomegranates at 4800 Metres is available for purchase at Huckleberry Books in Cranbrook.