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A Reader's Summer

Updated: Mar 20



It's been summer The beach people have made their way to the beach, and the river people, if they were lucky, have idled a week away beside a river. Readers have made their way back to books.


All the long year, they have suffered email and reports that must be read, exhausting Zoom calls, wasted time on YouTube videos in a vain attempt to break their boredom. There's probably been a book or two on the bedside table, but sometimes those books sit there for a week or more unopened. The reader sighs and knows …. they are missing books.


Now it's summer, and the holidays, and it is time to give over to books. Several simultaneously, or bang bang bang, three between Christmas and New Year. It's time to let the imagination off the leash, time to give over to a long conversation between just one person, the author, and the crowded tumult of their own thoughts, memories, feelings.


I've had a good summer. I started early with essays by Zadie Smith (Changing My Mind), then The Yield (hard work), and Frugal Hedonism (which I got the hang of after a while). Inspired by Claudia Kavan's ABC show on books, I went to the library and put half a dozen books on request. The first through was a biography of Gillian Mears, which I finished last weekend. I believe that in time, I will recover.


Around New Year, I think, I started on Rewilding the Urban Soul: searching for the wild in the city, by Claire Dunn. The title indicates the ambition. I'd be happy with Rewilding the Urban, or just Rewilding, but the book is true to its promise. Each chapter opens a door to the wild. It’s written from the flesh of the thing: at some point in most chapters, I cried or cried out, delighted and surprised by her audacity and her honest speaking.


Pretty soon into the book, I settled into the rhythm of reading a chapter in the morning, after waking, in bed with my cup of tea. Then I would take a first walk in the garden, to let the chapter ricochet around me.


It’s now late January, and my working year has begun. I'm polishing a draft report and writing a bid for a project I care a lot about. I have moved on to other reading, but I still have a few precious chapters of Claire’s book to eke out, and I want to hold onto the spirit of summer. year.


Read a chapter.

Walk out into the valley.

Feel your life.


Isn't that what summer is about?


Ross Colliver, Riddells Creek Landcare, ross.colliver@bigpond.com 20/01/22

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