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Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond: Seeing a World in the Garden

by David Zurick

Recipient of the 2017 Nautilus Silver Award: Books for a Better World, in the category of lyrical prose.

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David Zurick, winner of the 2006 National Outdoor Book Award, recounts an event in his life that seems exceedingly uncomplicated: he builds a goldfish pond in his backyard. Yet, there is more to a goldfish pond than meets the eye. Zurick's compelling story travels the world, encompassing places of extraordinary beauty and rich cultural traditions, but the core of it is in Wolf Gap Holler, Kentucky, where he lives among hard-working and community-minded neighbors, cuts firewood to keep  warm in the winter, and enjoys morning coffee by his goldfish pond . . . often with his neighbor George. Entertaining and informative, the book at first seems so simple that one barely notices its treatises on the sacred qualities of place, the contemplative virtues of nature, the dilemmas of sustainability, and the spiritual framework that undergirds life. Yet, this is what this book is about: a sacred and seamless landscape that extends from the highest mountain plateaus in Tibet to the deepest hollers of Kentucky.

NATURE / Ecology
HOUSE & HOME / Sustainable Living

ISBN: 978-1-947067-02-8 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
ISBN: 978-1-947067-03-5 (digital)

LCCN: 2017950158 2017

Released October 2017

234 pages

Author Biography

David Zurick travels often from his Wolf Gap home to photograph and write about distant places and cultures. He is the author of numerous books and maintains a photo blog called “Picture Pilgrim.”


"As the neighbor of a small pond myself, I found these meditations lovely in their simplicity. And—often the case with ponds—there's more depth there than you might think!"
     — Bill McKibben, environmentalist; educator; author of Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance

"Seductively, this work unfolds a geography of the sacred that is both local and global, both meditation and contemplation.  It offers readers diverse ways of living and being in the world."
     — bell hooks, academic; activist; author of All About Love: New Visions

"This book is a journey into the depths of life and our contemporary challenges. Rarely have I seen the local and global more elegantly juxtaposed. The result is nothing short of masterful."
    — Mary Evelyn Tucker, environmentalist; co-founder, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology; author of  Journey of the Universe

"David Zurick takes us on an epic pilgrimage across sacred landscapes around the world. The outer pilgrimage is rugged and raw, full of grit and beauty, and observes the truth of impermanence up close, like sitting near a cremation pyre. And the inner journey illuminates and connects us to the deeper aspects of what it means to be human—empathy, understanding, and connectedness. Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond is a meditation on the inter-relationship of geography, movements of energy, and the human spirit. I highly recommend it."
     — Matteo Pistono, teacher of meditation and yoga; author of Meditation: Coming to Know Your Mind and In the Shadow of the Buddha

Articles and Reviews

"Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond," San Francisco Book Review, May 2018.

"An inherently interesting and entertaining read from beginning to end, Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond is unique, extraordinary, and unreservedly recommended for community library collections." Small Press Bookwatch, January 2018.

International traveler and award-winning outdoors writer finds wisdom in his backyard goldfish pond, July 24, 2017. [press release]


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