Book Review: The Nature of Spring by Jim Crumley
For a view from Northern Scotland and the Islands and a weather eye on the climate with a sensitivity to its changes, one cannot do much better than to read Jim Crumley’s “The Nature of Spring” (Saraband 2019), a few extracts of which were recently broadcast on Radio 4 as Book Of The Week.
He is a nature writer at home in that world of winds and sea and storms and sea eagles. His visits to the Shetlands, and vigils on the mainland, reveal an ear tuned to the music of birdsong, and a writer who has such a way with words that you find yourself there too, enthralled by changing light and circling buzzards, peregrines and eagles. It is written from a deep knowledge of the natural world.
Loosely woven through the text are a breadth of cultural references – poets, painters, composers- who inspire Jim Crumley’s writing, and who he calls on from time to time to enhance our understanding.
“The Nature of Spring” is a pleasure to read (notwithstanding the anxieties expressed about climate change). The sort of book for your leisure hours, unless you are an ornithologist, in which case it’s a busman’s holiday!.
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Here in Derbyshire yesterday I saw a manifestation of avian behaviour, exhilarating in its joie de vivre : lapwings courting – a sailing fall and a sweeping curve out of it close to the water, fast, and regular calling between them (a clear – 2 sounds together – squeaking call, eee-it) and meeting in the air and flying, chasing, but mostly the male, over and again swerving and scooping the air, squeaking and diving, turning and falling and curving out of it over the water, speeding about, its half-black wings sometimes aligned so the bird is a black flickering line, with no white visible, an undulating ribbon of black.
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