So this week I am writing just a little update. All is well, I just have a few minor health issues…full blown flu, women’s problems (yes, I thought I was done with that too since July last year! I can’t express how glacially thrilled I am) and a migraine to be exact. Tacking that lot on to the less than perfectly working body I have these days and I am, as one of the children put it, an ill bean. Probably of the broad bean variety if my ever increasing girth is to be taken into account…
I have been napping since Saturday afternoon, tis true, but in between I have been defying the double vision and reading with an eye covered…awfully clever, I thought, you’re impressed too, I can tell… and sliding into the world of Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places. What a joy this book is! Macfarlane shares my love of a vista, a hidden nook and a furious coastline. Whilst I have been languishing he has taken me on a journey across moors, up mountains and through holloways. We have collected pebbles together, drunk from crystal streams and moved bramble to get into sleepy hollows. We haven’t eaten bugs because this is the UK and here, in our wilderness, we rub two sticks together, get a pan out and heat up something delicious we brought with us. And we did. And it tasted even more wonderful for that. Although we didn’t use a picnic rug which I thought would have been only right and proper. I shall perhaps send an email and point this folly out.
On a couple of his journeys he had Roger Deakin as a companion. The two men together wandered as schoolboys in The Wild Places, squeezing into gaps most would pass by and using ivy to get into holloways which probably haven’t seen a human for many years. Deakin has also written some truly wonderful books with Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees being a particular favourite of mine. Printed after his death, it is a collection of his travels through woodlands in many places across the world as well as the UK. Moreover it is a book which brings alive every step he took so vividly you can reach out and touch the bark with him.
Macfarlane slept in the open air on the edge of island cliffs with birds roosting beside him and the ocean crashing on the rocks below him, lulling him to sleep with nature’s melody. He sought the fury of a storm on a mountain and the loneliness of a shingle bank (spit) out in the North Sea with a distant seal colony his only companions.
These books are about having fun whatever your age and going where your soul is nourished. For those of us who are called by the wild they are also a welcome respite from the sounds of the town around us. They are books which tempt you off the beaten track, which get you pulling out dusty maps from the back of your shelves and pouring over them. They are also for those of us who yearn to run our fingertips down the face of a granite outcrop again and marvel at the time it has been there. I miss my mountains.