Reading outside is a stolen pleasure, especially where an abundance of deep blue days is so unexpected. I take every opportunity, no matter how late in the afternoon, no matter how the midges bite because books, like food, taste different without walls, sound different against a background of birdsong. The briskness and direction of the wind dictates where I sit: under the hazel in the most sheltered part of the flower garden; in the orchard right next to the fire pit with a tree stump for my tea cup, or my reading spot of choice – out amongst the long grass and buttercups in the fields. I can hide from the hundred other things I have to do, out there: I am invisible and elsewhere.
These books are wonderful, especially under June skies. Let them take you deep into the heart of English countryside, or in the case of Glimmerglass somewhere entirely more Faerie, and allow yourself to disappear into still water, goshawk dawns and old, old pastures at twilight. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
April is the month of greening, of greenshift, when everything bursts into leaf and growth. Yesterday I lay down, for a spirit-level view across to the brook; the grass has risen by half an inch this past week. The Victorian naturalist W H Hudson would spend a whole day in spring just admiring grass: “to rejoice in it again, after the long wintry months, nourishing my mind on it… The sight of it was all I wanted.”
Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field by John Lewis-Stempel.
“There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realise that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realise, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, […]”
H is for Hawk Helen Macdonald.
Perhaps it was a sense of estrangement from the everyday that drew Cynthia Sorrel to the village of Cooper Patent. The failed painter was lured by the gatehouse with its seven doors, the lake with its tower, and the magical air of a place that couldn’t quite decide whether it was fictional, mythical or real.
Glimmerglass by Marly Youmans.