LEWISTON — Margie Patlak didn’t set out to write an award-winning book.

Margie Patlak reads from her memoir Thursday afternoon in Callahan Hall at Lewiston Public Library during the final Great Falls Forum of the season. Her talk was titled “What Can the Nature of Maine Teach Us about the Nature of Life?” Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“I thought I was writing a book about the nature of Maine, but ended up writing about the nature of life,” she told a Great Falls Forum audience Thursday.

Patlak, who began summering in Maine over a dozen years ago, said she simply began writing about her experiences on the Maine coast, trying to understand the environment around her, and her place in it.

During the forum she read several excerpts from her book, “More Than Meets the Eye: Exploring Nature and Loss on the Coast of Maine,” which was given an Outstanding Book award by the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

The book includes chapters about topics quintessentially Maine: fog, wildlife, and how the state’s rocky coastline was formed. But through each one, Patlak explores much deeper topics such as humanity, renewal and the relation of time.

She shared a story about kayaking at nightfall with bioluminescent plankton and the stars on full view. She said the wonder of it all made her ask herself, “What else am I missing?”


The book talks about her children growing up, exploring tide pools, and seemingly in the blink of an eye, becoming adults. She also writes about spreading the ashes of her mother in the Gulf of Maine.

Patlak said she started writing about Maine when she and her husband bought property Down East. She said she had fond memories of spending time on Mount Desert Island as a child, when her father worked at Jackson Laboratory.

She also spent time Thursday showing photographs from her upcoming book, “Wild and Wondrous: Nature’s Artistry on the Coast of Maine,” which will be released in July.

According to a statement from the Lewiston Public Library, which hosts the monthly forum, “exploring the unique nature of the Maine coast opens a door to deeper ties and insights.”

It said the book illustrates “how many facets of the natural world speak a hidden language that can be translated by scientific knowledge and reflection.”

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