Category Archives: Ecosystems
In our latest podcast, author A. D. Martin talks climate change, connecting with nature, the ills of rampant consumerism, his tips for simpler living, and his latest good non-fiction reads. Food for thought! Click here to listen online, or search for ‘Listeners in the Mist’ in iTunes.
You can find out more about his book, ‘One: A Survival Guide for the Future’ here.
Growing up in a small town, A. D. Martin went on to a career in finance where he found himself mixing with some of the world’s leading business minds. Along the way he experienced a number of life changing events, all of which contributed to a growing awareness and a gradual awakening. His experiences and business background formed the foundation for his economic, spiritual and practical awakening, providing insights into the challenges humanity faces over the coming years. He has now dedicated his life to helping individuals grow and awaken to the realities of our new future – a brighter, more resilient and sustainable future. That of One…
The winner of our Love2Read Book Review Competition for April (with the theme of ‘Feel’) has been announced – and congratulations go out to Aurelia Webster-Hawes, for her wonderful review of Richard Mabey’s ‘The Perfumier and the Stinkhorn’. You can read her winning review below.
Would you like to enter a book review for this month? Please email a 400-600 word review of a fiction or non-fiction book, with the May theme of ‘Escape’, to: firstname.lastname@example.org , along with your name, library card number and contact phone number, by the 31st May, 2012. Good luck!
‘The Perfumier and the Stinkhorn’ by Richard Mabey
In this stimulating collection of essays, prominent English nature writer Richard Mabey takes us on a thoughtful and gentle wander through his sensory experiences of nature, and how he has married these with a scientific mind to explore his feelings of connection with the world.
The book consists of six small essays, each covering a single sense; touch, sight, taste, smell, hearing and an exploration of a potential sixth; our sense of direction.
Technology and analytical ability is continuously improving, allowing us to discover and understand previously impossible phenomena. We can see the naked quark, and create a small supernova in a jar. A scientist will employ their senses to explain the world.
Mabey identifies himself as a Romantic, generally defined as appreciating beauty for the sake of it.
However, he emphasises his inclination towards the values of famous poet John Clare, namely employing the knowledge and analytic rigour of a scientist but yet retaining his appreciation of nature as “a complex community, not a machine to be dispassionately dissected.” He frequently draws on Clare’s ideas throughout the book along with other notable figures including James Lovelock, Richard Dawkins and Lewis Thomas.
In each essay, Mabey evocatively recalls his natural encounters from his childhood in the Chilterns to later Norfolk in regard to a specific sense. These are employed as an effective springboard to launch his musings on how this has shaped his relationship with the environment, both as a naturalist and scholar. Each essay (like the book) is titled in relation to his merging of earthy and scientific concepts, such as “The Lichen and the Lens”; covering the area of sight.
Mabey vividly recounts a time when using binoculars, he was able to determine that what he thought a robin was in fact a redstart, unusual in the area.
He describes his feelings of wonderment; “I’d found a point where our territorial paths crossed, and for a fleeting moment the world seemed, to my childish imagination, a more whole and comprehensible place.”
He relates this to another occasion when unable to capture the whole drama of a large bird catching a fish, he had to put down his binoculars to appreciate the entire scene. These instances highlight his view of using technology in natural investigation as “double-edged;” giving us the ability to observe the previously impossible, while potentially disconnecting it from its intended context.
While the language is simple in wording, Mabey’s ability to evoke the very feelings he addresses is profound. Perhaps the evidence of his writings is present in how evocative descriptions of the sensual experiences are; despite never having been to England, I still found myself feeling the phantom prickle of sedge, seeing the mushrooms proudly standing tall in wooded forests, hearing the haunting whistle of a nightingale at my window.
He exceeds in making his experiences accessible and relatable to the reader, instilling a powerful sense of common experience and connectedness with both humankind and our surroundings.
Living in the Blue Mountains, we are surrounded by natural wonders which we unconsciously interact with every day. This book opens your eyes to possibilities in perception that may previously have been unthought-of, and despite your Facebook account or Toyota Hybrid, truly makes you feel a genuine creature of nature.
Book review by Aurelia Webster-Hawes