BV readers have long been fans of our wildife writer Jane Adams, and the power of her words. Her column is a favourite of many as she gently shows us the secrets, beauty (and humour) held within the Dorset landscape, always encouraging us to see something new in its wild inhabitants. This month sees the launch of her first book, published in association with the National Trust.
As if taking us with her on one of her walks, Jane wanders gently through the year, her evocative writing sitting alongside her beautiful photography. No sooner are you trying to recall what an oak apple gall* looks like than, there is a handy picture.
*… used in the production of iron gall ink. This water-resistant and permanent ink was used by Leonardo da Vinci and the scholars of the Dead Sea scrolls
A small problem
I’ll be honest, there is one issue with this book. It is impossible just to flick through it. I expected a rather obvious walk through the seasons (“spring wanders from south to north at a leisurely pace of one to two kilometres an hour”), filled with things that I, as a keen walker and nature lover, already knew. Instead I’m still here, half an hour later, enjoying cockchafer names (kittywitch, billywitch, mitchamador, snartlegog, humbur, bummer…) and the fact that “in 1320, exasperated with the damage cockchafers were causing, a court ordered the insects to be exiled to an area of cordoned-off woodland. Unsurprisingly, the beetles didn’t comply.”
Jane’s book is so much more than seasonal saunters. It’s a reminder to pay attention to the very smallest of details. In an always-busy modern world, it is a pause, a way to feel those ever-more important connections to nature, no matter where we are, no matter how small they may be
“… experiencing them reminds us nature isn’t something separate or out of reach. It’s here, now, entwined throughout our lives. Sometimes, though, we forget … we can become engrossed in, and exhausted by, the modern world and the pressures that come with it. We forget to go in search of shooting stars in the winter skies, or listen for the garden robin’s serenade whilst putting out the bins.”
After one read, this book is a firm favourite I will return to again and again. I will give it to others. It’s such a wonderful celebration of so many small, apparently insignificant facets of our English countryside, and it is packed with constant nuggets of delight.
“In October and November, jays begin to hide acorns.
Not just a few beakfuls, but thousands upon thousands – each jay stuffing as many as 5,000 acorns into holes they have dug in the ground.”
They constantly make me want to go and tell someone.
So here I am.
Nature’s Wonders (£15) is available locally at Winstone’s in Sherborne, Folde in Shaftesbury, Gullivers in Wimborne, Little Toller in Beaminster, plus all good online bookshops.