News Feature

Originally published in Compass, July 24, 2014
New from Penobscot Books
“Island Naturalist” columns now in book form

Kathie Fiveash has had a passion for the out of doors since she was a small child. Today, she says, “I prefer to be out alone or with my dog, toting binoculars and field guides, free to stop wherever and whenever I want….”

That passion led her, in 2010, to suggest to Island Ad-Vantages publisher Nat Barrows that she contribute a natural history column to the weekly newspaper. The result was “Island Naturalist,” which appears every other week in the Ad-Vantages, detailing the flora and fauna of Isle au Haut, where Fiveash lives.

Penobscot Books, a division of Penobscot Bay Press, has compiled four years of columns in book form, titled Island Naturalist, with the addition of color photos for many of the essays, according to a press release.

Fiveash was a classroom teacher in Cambridge, Mass., for 20 years and has a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from Antioch New England. She moved to Isle au Haut 15 years ago. For eight years, she has taught an Island Ecology course she developed to students in the island’s tiny one-room school.

“I feel it is increasingly important that we humans understand our connections to the multitudes of living beings that share the earth with us,” Fiveash writes in the introduction to Island Naturalist.

Fiveash’s essays take the reader among the flora and fauna of the rocky shores, spruce forests, bogs, meadows, clam flats, ponds, streams, marshes and ocean of coastal Maine. While she writes from Isle au Haut, the information she provides is pertinent to all of coastal Maine.

The book is laid out by season, beginning in spring with writings about mud season, spring peepers, robins and dandelions. Summer brings baby birds, fireflies, monarch butterflies and lichens. Featured in fall are apples, bird migration, harbor seals and lobsters. Winter closes the year with scallops, sea ducks, life beneath the snow and winter solstice. In all, 70 columns detail the vibrancy of the natural world in easy-to-read language.

Island Naturalist is available at the Island Ad-Vantages office on Main Street in Stonington and The Weekly Packet office on Main Street in Blue Hill, or order online at or by calling 374-2341.

Fiveash will talk about her book on Monday, July 28, at 6:30 p.m. at the Blue Hill Public Library along with Anneli Sundqvist-Carter, author of A Homesteader’s Year on Deer Isle.