Laurie Ricou’s A Field Guide to “A Guide to Dungeness Spit” (1997) is an idiosyncratic critical account of “A Guide to Dungeness Spit” (1962), a poem by David Wagoner that depicts a coastal landscape on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington. This essay suggests that the sense of place in Wagoner’s poem depends upon a representation of surprise. Ricou’s study in turn takes surprise as a critical trope, emulating the poem and linking explication of the text to autobiographical writing and a survey of the poem’s contexts. The essay contends that the resultant critical mode is at once highly attentive to textual detail yet cognizant of the degree to which individual experience shapes interpretation. The essay places Wagoner’s poem and Ricou’s book in the context of ecocriticism. It pays particular attention to the depiction and shaping of a literary region that extends across the border between Canada and the United States.