The Wild Places – Book Recommendation

Charles F. Rattigan – VINS Executive Director

The ‘wilderness” books I’ve read include Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness and John Muir’s Steep Trails and I recommend both of these thought-provoking and mystical accounts of spending time in a quest to be truly in nature.  These are first-hand accounts of the experience of wildness, participating in its sound or silence, its fury, its remarkable beauty.

The Wild Places

I also highly recommend The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane.  It is in a very real sense a quest, both intellectual and physical. Guided by those who have gone before, monks, questers, poets, and artists, he rambles throughout the British Isles in search of the last remaining wilderness.  He mixes history and landscape to evoke the beauty and strangeness of “wild places.”

His power of description and observation and the beauty of his writing make reading this book a wonderful adventure following his amazing adventure.  Here is a brief example:

“For weeks before the windstorm, I had felt the familiar desire to move, to get beyond the fall-line of the incinerator’s shadow, beyond the event-horizon of the city’s ring-road. And up there in the crow’s-nest that day, looking down at the roads, the hospital and the fields, and the woods cramped between them, I felt a sharp need to leave Cambridge, to reach somewhere remote, where starlight fell clearly, where the wind could blow upon me from its thirty-six directions, and where the evidence of human presence was minimal or absent. Far north or far west; for to my mind this was where wildness survived, if it survived anywhere at all.” — Excerpt from The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane

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