Compiled from her Nature Notebook columns for the Times, this beguiling nature diary by the author of All Among the Barley charts her transition from the streets of Streatham, south London, to the Suffolk countryside where she now lives. But this is far from a clichéd book about escaping mean city streets for a rural idyll. Instead, Harrison maps her joyful engagement with the natural world in both places, showing that we must learn to see, and act to preserve, the beauty we have on our doorsteps, wherever we live.
For more than 20 years, Harrison lived in London, endeavouring to connect with the city’s seasonal offerings of nature, from its reserves to its birdlife. But eventually she moved to Suffolk, continuing her nature diary for theTimes, on which the book is based, and launching a podcast of the same name. She reflects on the changing habitat around her with passionate understanding and gentle encouragement that we follow suit.
An appealing feature of Harrison’s book is how hopeful she remains. She is aware that Earth has not always been a home for humans, and that they will not inhabit it for ever. She knows, she says, that the Anthropocene age will pass, like the Jurassic. One February morning she digs a fossilised sea urchin out of the clay soil near Peterborough and remarks that this creature lived and died when dinosaurs walked the earth. She probably realises that, for some, the transience of the human species is a matter for rejoicing.