Friday, May 15, 2020

In the land of lost words -

My latest choice of books arrived last week - delivered to the door like so many other things these days. Browsing for an hour or so in a lovely independent bookshop, perhaps curled in a wingback chair with some classical music playing very softly in the background, is on hold of course. Just when we really need beautiful books and tantalizing stories, we have to get our hands on them via a computer, a wait, the grey Prime van pulling up at the bottom of the driveway, the loud 'plop' as the heavy box hits the top step outside the front door. Slash open the box, pop some bubble wrap - you do that too don't you? New books are lovely. You have your own favorite chair, your own music to play if you enjoy quiet background sounds. If warm, sit by the open window, birdsong is everywhere these days.  Life is still good, very good if you allow yourself to grab and hold on to loving your favorite things be it cooking, painting, writing, listening. . . . . and of course reading.

If interested in the reasons for my latest book picks, read here.
From top to bottom of the stack:

In Patagonia - Bruce Chatwin
"An exhilarating look at a place that still retains the exotic mystery of a far-off, unseen land."
Having visited there twice, I've had this classic by the great British travel writer on my 
list for a long time - starting it today.

The Shell Collector - Anthony Doerr
A book of short stories so wonderful I couldn't put it down. After enjoying his novel
 "All The Light We Cannot See" so much, I just had to read this. . . . .loved it, 
and will be reading over and over when in need of a fabulous short story, beautifully

Peregrine Spring - Nancy Cowan
"A Master falconer's extraordinary life with birds of prey."
Nancy (and her husband Jim, a work colleague of Bob for many years), are friends.
 I have visited their internationally known New Hampshire School of Falconry and 
felt the weight of an exquisite, huge raptor fly in and land on my gloved hand to eat. 
An experience like no other!
This book is going to be wonderful, educational, and I'm anxious to read it.

A Way to Garden - Margaret Roach 
'A hands-on primer for every season'.
I know Margaret well from her wonderful online blog and many
years as garden editor for Martha Stewart Living magazine. 
She also writes a New York Times column.
Margaret's weekly blog post from upstate New York is always full of fabulous 
gardening tips, podcasts with other well known gardeners, and generous
 book give-a-ways (I won one!).
Now I will be opening her book often, enjoying the beautiful photos and learning
 more about a hobby I love. After all, "A garden is a job for ever".

The Lost Words - Robert MacFarlane & Jackie Morris
The lovely surprise was that this is an exquisite oversized book which looks 
perfect left out to be picked up, opened, and to be in awe of because of the
 beautiful illustrations.
Publication of the most recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary - widely
 used in schools around the world - dropped around forty common words
 concerning nature, as they weren't being used by children. "Lost words" 
included acorn, bluebell, fern, newt, otter, dandelion and willow. 
Words taking their place include attachment, broadband, cut-and-paste
 voice-mail and blog!
Powerful signs of the growing, and quite frightening to me, gulf between
 childhood and nature.
A picture book of the best kind - it is truly fabulous - and you will find me by
 that open window, listening to the birds, as I turn the pages during
 these days at home.

A weekend thought -
Wearing a mask inside your home is now highly recommended. 
Not so much to prevent COVID-19 but to stop eating!

Have a great weekend anyway dear readers!


  1. What - children today do not use the words otter, dandelion and bluebell?! I hope that is not true... there are several children in my wider circle of (English-speaking) friends and relatives who are, I am certain, aware of those words and use them, their parents having instilled their own love of nature in them.
    The book itself looks like one very much to be enjoyed. I love Robert Macfarlane's "The Old Ways" which I read and reviewed on my blog in 2018 - your comment made me chuckle!

    1. . . . . . that's the secret Meike, there are parents have NOT instilled their own love of nature in them.

      These days I find - and have done it myself - that it's often the grandparents who are doing this! I see in my own family, some younger parents not passing on nature facts, far too busy with more modern things. I had a granddaughter years back who said she was the only one in class who knew the names of flowers, plants, trees, birds etc. when asked by the teacher. I used to walk her to school when little and teach her names of things in gardens we passed.

      I went back to read your mentioned post - I'd be even more inclined now, a few years on, to meet you in front of the roaring fire at that English pub after DRIVING across awesome Dartmoor! Let's try to do it some day!!!!!!

      Mary -

  2. I remember reading about the 'lost words' and feeling very sad. As an ex teacher, and a prolific reader, I have always tried to open up childrens minds to the wonder of words. What makes these people think that children arent using words like bluebell??

    1. As I say above dear friend, there are so many children not being taught at home about such things. It's the reason I've read in publications such as UK Country Living, that British schools are working hard to bring back "the nature table" and such.
      We find high school age kids working in grocery stores who ask us the names of specific vegetables at the check out, they haven't a clue so obviously don't eat them at home - I had one question parsnips last time I was able to get to the store!

      Hang in there dear -

  3. I saw this book somewhere else...maybe the newspaper or somewhere online. I had no idea the cover was so lovely, too! A beautiful book to be displayed.

    1. It was the most delightful surprise being large format and quite unexpected!

  4. Hi dear! I hope you are enjoy your reading time. I've been also reading a lot lately, it so good for the soul. Also, you are right about wearing a mask at home haha. Miss you! xx

    1. Love you and miss spending time with you so much dear Vanessa. Wish you were still living here!
      Stay well - hugs to you all xxx

  5. Your stack of books looks like interesting reading that will keep your interest high. I'm appalled that those words are not considered in use any longer. I'm sure my grandchildren know and use all of them, but perhaps that's because we don't live in a highly urban setting, and the families enjoy camping and outdoor activities. The book's illustrations are beautiful, if the cover is any indication.

    1. I want to show more of what's between the covers but think I would need permission from the publisher. I'm never sure just what we are allowed to show when it comes to blogs etc. The huge two page illustrations are absolutely gorgeous - I want to clip them and frame them!!!!!!!

  6. I will look for the Anthoy Doerr book as I loved his writing - Thanks.

    1. . . . . . these are wonderful short stories, he is a marvelous writer!

  7. I, too, had been shocked when the lost words were announced and will purchase a copy of this book. It's a wonderful idea to memorialise them like this! ... You've a very tempting list of books there.

    1. I hope you love the book as much as I do. . . . . . it's really stunning between the covers!

  8. So sad that those are lost words! That book looks lovely.

  9. Dear Mary,
    I have made a list from your recommendations. It will be good reading once the garden has been planted.


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