Instructions for a Flood

Reflections on Story, Geography and Connection

By Adrienne Fitzpatrick

Categories: Travel & Outdoors, Environment
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781773861128, 128 pages, May 2023

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A poetic chronicle of history, both personal and geographical, as the author grapples with reconciliation through work in her BC communities.


Instructions for a Flood is a non-fiction account, in the form of personal essays and vignettes, of a life in the central interior and coastal regions of British Columbia. Inspired by her passion for exploration and a desire to reframe her understanding of the areas in which she grew up, Adrienne Fitzpatrick embarks upon a decade of reflection and personal reconciliation within her own community and the broader landscape she inhabits. Though she is accompanied by fellow travellers, workmates and guides on these journeys, Fitzpatrick is drawn to the isolation of these areas and the resilience and community this isolation necessitates. In these encounters, the stories of the people and places meld, connected to the land and to other communities by great bodies of water and remote lakes and streams. Like the water that connects and imprints upon the land, there are glints of light and beauty, as well as deep, dark places of danger to be uncovered here. Instructions for a Flood serves as a cartographic study of the strong pull of nature in places where the past is ever present, inscribing upon the land like a network of arteries and instilling in us a guidebook for being.


“In Instructions for a Flood, Adrienne Fitzpatrick once again brings us her unique and powerful writing, this time to travels in northern BC, ranging from Purden Lake to the Pacific Ocean. She immerses herself in the land and people through lakes and waterways— ‘cold water entering my eyes like a portal’ —where she sees the past and present in all its joy and sorrow. Instructions for a Flood is vital; Fitzpatrick reminds us ‘how water can swallow a person, a village whole, wipe out a generation but for the storytellers who keep the song alive, so that when the flood is over, the story continues.’”

—Al Rempel

“In this spare, powerful book, Adrienne Fitzpatrick writes with eloquence and raw honesty about the land that defines her. Taking us to the rivers and lakes that are an integral part of her personal history, she shows us the power and metaphor of water—its lurking dangers, how it gives and takes life, what it carries when it floods, what it leaves behind. In stories about her formative years in the ‘rough beauty’ of central and northern BC, and later working with First Nations on the contentious issues of extractive industry, she reveals how humans—and water—have impacted these territories and their ancient cultures.”

—Maria Coffey, author of Where the Mountain Casts its Shadow