It’s not clear how much time has passed between “Too Much Salt and Pepper” and “How’s Inky?,” Sam Campbell’s first memoir. Campbell helps us by telling us that WWII has begun, Bobby is fighting in the war, and Campbell has married. This time gap is important because Inky plays a role in “Too Much Salt and Pepper.” Because he shows up here, clearly not enough time has passed that a porcupine would not be able to still be alive.
The Campbells (Sam and Ginny) have moved their cabin from the shores of the lake to a new cabin on an island in the same lake. On this island live two of their newest orphaned animals, Salt and Pepper. Because they are on an island now, the porcupines don’t have a lot of space to spread out and cause lots of hassles to the Campbells. Sadly, for Salt, Pepper heads the call of nature and leaves the island to explore the greater forests around them. It’s heart breaking to hear about how Salt grieves the loss of his sister. What’s interesting is that Salt doesn’t follow her, even though we know that porcupines can swim.
Sam and Ginny invite Carol to spend a week with them in the sanctuary. Carol is a young woman who has attended several of the Campbells’ lectures about nature and has kept in touch with them as she’s grown from a child to a teenager. While she’s at the sanctuary, the Campbells expose her to different lessons nature has to teach us. This involves learning to embrace silence in order to observe the world around us. She learns to enjoy nature as an art form like when she sees a sunset over the lake for the first time.
Once again, Campbell works in some life lessons into his memoirs of his time away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. While this volume is more didactic since they are purposefully pointing lessons out to Carol, I still felt that it wasn’t too preachy. Any one who has ever been in Girl/Boy Scouts or any similar organization would probably be taught the same thing. There’s also an element of meditation and mindfulness to the lessons Campbell discusses in “Salt and Pepper.”
This one wasn’t as enjoyable as “How’s Inky” but I enjoyed the perspective of Carol since she’s new to spending time in nature. Having lived in rural places or having access to hikes and camping trips growing up, I take nature for granted. It’s hard for me to imagine what it would be like to be a teenager and to go camping for the first time. Carol is an important lesson in always appreciating time in nature.