Friend of the Library and guest blogger, Sarah Wolf, attended last night’s program and had this to share. A big thank you to Sarah for writing this, and to Patricia for speaking at the Somerville Public Library!
Meet, Mingle, Read (May 31, 2012)
“I hope the book serves as a reminder not just to Alex as she grows,
but to all of us, that if you want to do something big, something daring
and grand and huge, then don’t automatically shrug and assume you’re
too young, too old, too weak, too busy, too poor, too frazzled, or too small.
Learn, persevere, sweat. Take the time to figure out how to do it correctly,
then go to it with a giant spirit of adventure and enjoy the climb.”
Patricia Ellis Herr, Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure
On Thursday, May 31, 2012, Somerville writer Patricia Ellis Herr spent the evening sharing anecdotes and life lessons she learned while she and her five-year-old (at the time) daughter Alex took on the challenge of summiting the forty-eight peaks known collectively as the New Hampshire Four-thousand Footers (or 4ks). Starting out, this mother/daughter duo knew very little about what taking on this kind of challenge entailed but together, they quickly learned what the physical, material, and mental requirements were and proved that things like age, size, and gender don’t stand in the way of achieving a goal.
In attendance were Herr’s two young daughters Alex and Sage who have both successfully climbed all forty-eight peaks. The book focuses mostly on Alex’s quest for this goal but at the time of the book’s writing, Sage, who is two years younger, had not yet decided if she was going to follow in her sister’s footsteps. Since the book’s publication, Sage has “joined the club” and the family continues to set new hiking goals for themselves.
Herr is clearly very proud of her children and supports their inclination to think big and play hard. “I don’t understand parents that don’t let their kids get dirty,” she says. “It’s not a real hike unless there’s mud or blood.” Herr wants her daughters to get out there and find their passion. In their case, it’s hiking.
Herr spoke about hurdles along the way, namely unpredictable weather, the occasional wild animal, and nay-sayers who criticized five-year-old Alex’s ability to take on such a challenge both because of her age and her gender. Of all the potential set-backs, the idea that a stranger could dictate what Alex could or could not do based on surface factors got under the skin of both mother and daughter. A strong recurring theme in the memoir, Herr spoke about this with a great deal of incredulity. After all, Alex (and later Sage) proved more than capable of summiting those “grown up” peaks.
Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure is a memoir about rising to the challenge – it’s about setting a goal and achieving it with gusto, something Patricia, Alex, and Sage Herr have all done in spades.