I found this little gem while looking around for books short enough to finish for #Springathon, a nature book reading challenge I participated in May. I would love to do some walks in the countryside of England, Scotland, or Wales, if we are ever able to travel again, so I thought this book might help keep that hope alive. Happily, I was right–it did the job and did it well.
Thank you to blogger Lola Et La Vie for introducing me to this book. Won’t you be nice and click on the link and explore her blog?
[T]here are hips bright as blood, too, and beside the path a straggle of field mustard, most likely a farmland escapee, blooms yellow and incongruous against the grey January sky: I crush a little between my fingers for its peppery smell and wonder whether spring may not be so far away after all.
- Wicken Fen in January
- Shropshire in April
- The Darent Valley in August
- Dartmoor in October
I intended to read this one seasonally, but it was so good, and so short, I just kept reading. It is part memoir, part nature book, part walking-as-hobby book. The writing drew me in and let me feel the surrounding countryside as well as the rain. There were just enough personal memories and stories to make this a complete nonfiction “novella.”
The old drystone walls bounding the road where we walk are shaggy with moss and dog lichen and pinned with medals of pennywort and the delicate buttonholes of maidenhair spleenwort, all beaded silver with rain.
Author Melissa Harrison, whose book At Hawthorn Time was shortlisted for the Costa Prize in 2015, write wonderful prose. Her descriptions of the surrounding environment are vivid and enticing. I am a little sad that I discovered her work nearly two seasons into my year of seasonal reading because her other books include 4 seasonal anthologies–what a treasure those must be. I hope to at least work in the Autumn volume this year.
Her writing is so well done that I had several new vocabulary words to learn. Two of them were:
- Cagoules: a lightweight, hooded, thigh-length waterproof jacket, essential for walking in the rain.
2. Tors: a hill or rocky peak–an interesting name for such a landmark.
There is also a helpful glossary in the back of the book with 100 words/phrases describing rain and another section with meteorological terms for rain–both of which I found fascinating.
A perfect little read for Novellas in November‘s nonfiction week–or maybe some year there will be a nature week?