Tuesday 9 April 2024

Invisible Nature by Kenneth Worthy


In this book, Kenneth Worthy offers a new understanding of the precarious modern human-nature relationship. 

All the luxuries of the modern world tend to blind us to our disconnections from nature and from the consequences our actions have for the natural world. Our personal and professional choices damage nature, from radioactive landscapes to disappearing rainforests, but we are too separated from nature to see this. This book traces the broken pathways between consumers and the production of most things we rely on, from food to smartphones, which often rely on the work of poorly paid people who we will never meet in countries we will never visit.

Worthy has spent time in Bali, where he notices that people are still connected to nature and to each other in traditional ways that have been lost in most societies, including the USA and UK. He also compares his own life to his ancestor Charles who settled in Canada in the seventeenth century and lived a life much closer to nature than the author is able to do himself. 

I really enjoyed the early parts of this book. Worthy takes a psychological approach to the issues, questioning how we can maintain a good relationship with nature when we spend so much of our time in abstract pursuits and are increasingly restricting our time to the human shaped world. Nature has, for many people, become a distant background to their lives. Even those of us who spend a lot of time in nature, these days need to make a conscious decision to engage with nature, much more so than our ancestors who lived more natural lives. He also looks at how people can be persuaded to destroy nature, through distancing them from the ultimate effects of their actions (decisions to destroy rainforests are made by people in front of computers at desks far removed from the forests themselves) or by offering no benign alternative (buying bottled water rather than drinking tap water is forced on people in countries where tap water is not drinkable.) 

The solutions put forward in the book are, however, less satisfying, ranging from a number of approaches that feel as though they have been discussed many times already with little effect to hippy sounding ideas like developing a more mindful way of relating to everyday objects.

Overall though this is a fascinating, thought provoking book about the disconnection between humans and nature, well recommended.

Invisible Nature by Kenneth Worthy, published (2013) by Prometheus Books.

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Rainy Spring Haiku

in the pouring rain -


originally published on Haiku Girl Summer.  


I'm delighted to have a haiku included in this year's Golden Haiku, on display in Washington DC. You can read all the haiku here

I'm also happy to have a senryu in issue 42 of Prune Juice. You can read the whole issue here.

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Beautiful Easter decorations

 I passed by Corstorphine Community Centre yesterday and took some photos of the lovely Easter decorations that are on display outside the front entrance of the centre. The whole thing has been knitted and includes lovely details including Easter chicks, daffodils, Easter eggs and of course plenty of rabbits! Here are the photos I took

Isn't it all beautiful? 

I made Easter cards for family and friends a few weeks ago, you can see them here.

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Young Larch Cones

 This is the time of year to really pay attention to larch trees! It's ten years now since I first discovered the beauty of the female cones on larch trees! You can see the development of the cones through a whole year in this blog post from 2014

Meanwhile, here are some of the very young female cones I saw today. 

And here is a photo showing a young cone next to a mature cone. 


If you look carefully, in the background, you may be able to see that many of the branches have a lot of pink cones on them. It seems to me that many larch trees are having a bumper year for new cones this year! 

Also, at one point today, I had the good luck of being able to watch three Nuthatches as they flew around collecting nest materials! It's not so many years ago that the Nuthatch first appeared in Edinburgh, as it moved northwards in the UK. Now it's not an uncommon bird here, but always lovely to see.

Monday 25 March 2024

Spring in Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens

 Yesterday I met a friend for a walk round Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens. The weather was beautiful.

I was surprised by how many of the rhododendron bushes were already in bloom

It was lovely to see this butterfly, my first Comma butterfly of the year!

Sunday 24 March 2024

Spring in the Hermitage of Braid

 We had a lovely walk yesterday in the Hermitage of Braid. We started at Blackford Pond, where we had heard toads were around (there have been a lot of toads seen in the area recently, making their way to the pond to spawn). There are signs around the area warning people to "Mind Your Feet! Tiny Toads Migrating!"

The Midmar Paddock Twitter timeline has photos and videos of the local toads (and other nature sightings in the area). Unfortunately, we didn't see any toads at all! However, we did see this female Shoveler who has been at the pond over the past few weeks, hopefully she'll be able to find a mate soon. 

Although superficially looking like most other female ducks, the Shoveler is easily recognizable by her large shovel shaped bill. 

Mute Swans seem to be about to nest at the edge of the pond, here's just one of them

The pond is surrounded by vegetation, including a few clumps of Marsh Marigolds

We then walked to the Hermitage of Braid, passing Midmar Paddock, which is still threatened with development (it would be a shame to lose this green space, which has always felt like an integral part of the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Pond Local Nature reserve).

The walls around Midmar Paddock are beautifully covered in ferns, mostly Maidenhair Spleenwort. 

We then walked into the Hermitage and along the Braid Burn

We were very pleased to see several patches of Wood Anemone in full bloom.

and this Grey Wagtail that was moving too quickly to allow for a clear photo 

Friday 22 March 2024

I'm With the Bears edited by Mark Martin


Subtitled Short Stories from a Damaged Planet, this is a collection of stories (though three are, disappointingly, actually excerpts from novels) from writers including Margaret Atwood, T C Boyle and David Mitchell. They're mostly grim, post apocalyptic stories, the intention I guess being to show us how bad it could get and instil in us an urgency to act. But there isn't exactly a great deal of hope in most of the stories. I found the collection to be overall oddly disappointing and lacklustre. With one exception. 

Hermie by Nathaniel Rich is a wonderful, very short story about a professional scientist who is visited by the hermit crab that used to be his imaginary friend. Hermie the hermit crab asks what is the scientist actually doing to save Hermie's old home that has been devastated by storms and inappropriate developments? It's a heartbreaking story, highlighting the need for hands on conservation work as against academic abstractions. 

Royalties from sales of this book go to 350.org, an international grassroots movement working to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.  

I'm with the Bears edited by Mark Martin, published (2011) by Verso.