The Stubborn Light of Things
When I lived in London I barely noticed the winter solstice. Nothing slowed, contracted or dimmed to mark the shortest day of the year, for, like all cities, London has all but left such trifling considerations behind.
But now I am in Suffolk, and the difference could not be more marked. I wake in dim half-light, the yellow windows of nearby farmhouses glimmering across frost-white fields. At three the rooks begin to gather in the leafless trees, and flocks of starlings start to move from place to place. When darkness falls, the nights are blacker than I’ve ever seen, the starfield so breathtaking that Orion and the Plough are lost amid a million other points of light.
The Stubborn Light of Things will transform the way you see the world. A Londoner for over twenty years, moving from flat to Tube to air-conditioned office, Melissa Harrison knew what it was to be insulated from the seasons. Adopting a dog and going on daily walks helped reconnect her with the cycle of the year and the quiet richness of nature all around her: swifts nesting in a nearby church; ivy-leaved toadflax growing out of brick walls; the first blackbird’s song; an exhilarating glimpse of a hobby over Tooting Common.
Moving from scrappy city verges to ancient, rural Suffolk, where Harrison eventually relocates, this diary – compiled from her beloved Nature Notebook column in The Times – maps her joyful engagement with the natural world and demonstrates how we must first learn to see, and then act to preserve, the beauty we have on our doorsteps – no matter where we live.
A perceptive and powerful call-to-arms written in mesmerising prose, The Stubborn Light of Things confirms Harrison as a central voice in British nature writing.
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