2014 was the year that I discovered my love of nature writing, the slow pace and startling discoveries made by others. I often plough through fiction and forget much of it, but I usually hold on to the pictures painted in a nature book: the creak of a wild wood in Suffolk, the buzzing insects on a still day in New Mexico, the dark peaty depths of a Cumbrian bog in November.
The natural world is pretty incredible, in its vast greatness and its tiny delicacies. I suspect we are all struck breathless by it at times, yet we don’t talk about it very much. Instead we talk about the immediate: our next meal, what’s coming up on the channel, or what he said to her yesterday. So, reading the words of someone else, hearing how nature inspires us individually, feels like a joy shared.
My favourite book of the year was H is for Hawk. Helen Macdonald’s tale of taming Mabel the Goshawk is wild, beautiful and heartbreaking. With her exploration of wildness, our place in it, and how we choose to respond, it was the perfect read to end the year.
I’m starting out this January with Badgerlands: a delve in to the dark, deeply trodden trails of badgers across Britain. With thoughts of Grahame’s Badger and his perfectly appointed winter kitchen, it’s a good book for the season.
With thanks to Laura who got me reading (and writing!) more these last twelve months.