(And Inga Simspson’ Nest)
Having just returned from the Festival of Colour, held annually in Wanaka in New Zealand, amongst the beautiful mist covered mountains of the south island, I’m taking a moment to appreciate nature. The animated conversation in the bus with Alison Ballance, author of many non-fiction books about the environment, including the endangered KaKapo helped head me in this direction. Perhaps too this reflection is also inspired in part by the visuals of Nepal I could see but not hear on the television screen at the gym, with the horrific news of the death toll of the earthquake and avalanche now over 4,000. Counter-posed with the execution of two of the Bali Nine, both media stories emphasized how life can be cut brutally short. The place I had just left in New Zealand had earthquakes further north while I was there, and not long ago much of Christchurch was levelled by one such an event. For all human’s mastery of many things, nature in its fury can bring us down to size pretty quickly. There is nothing more frightening (and magnificent) to me than the sea—must have been too young when I saw the Poseidon Adventure…
As a walker (very long distances generally) I have become increasingly aware of the power of nature in a different way. On long walks one comes to live in the moment—and each moment when walking in the wild, or not so wild forests and farmlands of France and Spain or the UK, there are always wonderful moments: the first tulip bud peeping out of the ground, the rain droplets on spider webs in sunlight. Such moments lead to a rush of well-being. A feeling that all is well with the universe—and one’s self. In this rush to everywhere and KPI driven world, miss this and we lose a sense of ourselves.
So it was a well timed birthday present that I just finished reading. Inga Simpson’s Nest is a lovely work of fiction. It is slow paced as such a book of reflection and nature should be. While there is a mystery of two missing children and a lost father interwoven into the fabric of the story, it is primarily a story of loss and regeneration, as Jen the heroine tries to come to terms with her past. She lives in lush vegetation in Australia’s north, and it the bird’s in particular that shape her world, them and her drawing of them given her a purpose, though teaching the next generation, young Henry, is what keeps her grounded. The author/ heroine’s observations of nature are rich and real, and bring alive the Australian habitat, sounds and smell included. It is a book to help you slow down and think. And one for bird lovers.