March 3rd, 2016


Spring, an anthology ed. Melissa Harrison

The contributors selected for this book are a mixture of the well-known, like Gilbert White and Edward Thomas and ‘fresh new voices’ from the present day (2016) submitting nature reports. You can spot the difference. Those writing in the past may have been awed by or just curious about the natural world but they took it for granted. Today there’s always a hint of ‘we may lose this if we do nothing about it’. Hence the association with The Wildlife Trusts.

Why do people writing about nature slip so easily into ‘Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole.’ mode? How about this: ‘Refulgent fall the golden rays of the sun’ etc. That’s Richard Jefferies. One extract I found quite unreadable turned out to be by D H Lawrence, which explained a lot.

Because the book covers the whole of the British Isles and many different habitats, it has something of the reassuring comfort of the Shipping Forecast about it. The sun will rise every morning. Spring will follow Winter. It may be cold or mild, wet or dry but the earth is renewing itself with signs of new life all around for those who look for them. This is the perfect bedside book.

BTW Gilbert White frequently mentions the habits of his tortoise, Timothy. This gives me the chance to recommend a charming book: The Portrait of a Tortoise, edited by Sylvia Townsend Warner from Gilbert White’s notes. I was given this as a present years ago and it’s a delight.

Three more books are planned and contributions are welcomed for the Autumn and Winter volumes. Have a go? It will be a lovely set when complete. Many thanks to Elliott and Thompson for sending me a copy of the book to read.

Aren’t they pretty?