Monday, March 11, 2013

into the wild: "Deep Country" by Neil Ansell + Tinker Creek moment + on being wild & free (reads)

This blog post is inspired by "Around the World in 12 Books: March = Wales" and by the "It's Monday! What are you reading?" series, more about both, in the post / at the bottom of this post.

In February, i went to the mountains literally, in a series of global high altitude reads that included a journey to Ki, the highest monastery in Tibet, a ancient fairytale from the Chinese hills (as modern audio version), a  story of "Ice, Mating" in the mountains of Pakistan.

Now the mountain reads continue after browsing my bookshelf for "Wales" - the March destination of the "Around the World in 12 Books Challenge", following Sudan in February. Wales... i thought. and then my mind surprised myself, by coming up with the memory of reading about Wales - in a book written by Neil Ansell, who lived for five years in a cottage in the mountains of Wales:
"The place was a Victorian gatekeeper's cottage. ... You could cross two fields and you were on open moorland; you could walk west for twenty miles without seeing another house, or a road, or a fence. This uninhabited swathe of the Cambrian Mountains right in the heart of the country has been called the green desert of Wales, its empty quarter. Just downhill across the track there was once a farmhouse, presumably Penlan Farm.."
That's from one of the first pages. And reading on, the book transported me right there, to this place I've never been to, to this place that Neil Ansell describes in its changing atmospheres and with a focus on nature. Reading into it made me go on reading. It's a book like a long hike through nature, with its observations of a place, of time, of life.

Here's a short clip of the author who talks about the region and the book:

Reading it also made me think of Annie Dillard's "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" ... i just looked for it in the blog, here's the blog post about ordering it second hand and then receiving an unread first edition from 1974("used. good condition"). i read it slowly, not wanting it to end. a quote i kept returning to, from the first chapter - lines on the world and writing:
"Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery ... We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise."  - Annie Dillard

But back to Wales - "Deep Country", i initially arrived at it through this blog note from Jean Morris in London, who wrote about it, and included a quote:
"I read with great pleasure this lovely book by Neil Ansell about his five years living alone, with birds, bats and beasts, in an remote cottage in the Welsh hills. Gently, spaciously written, with fine knowledge and perception of the natural world and of birds especially, this takes you right there...  "My days were spent outside, immersed in nature, watching. I saw as much as I did because of two things: the first, quite simply, was time, the long hours spent out in the field; the second was alertness, a state of heightened attentiveness. My attention was constantly focused away from myself and on to the natural world around me.”
In case you are now curious for the region, here's a photo of the hand-drawn map that is included in the book:

It was the line about the perception of the natural world and of birds especially that let me go and look for the book. i immediately could connect to that. going on nature walks, it's what we do every weekend, no matter the weather. here's a note from a recent walk, from my own diary:
"Rain again. We went for a walk anyway, despite the drizzle, and it was a hushed atmosphere with almost no one out there, but birds, who chirped happily. Then we saw 2 Milan birds, they are fascinating with their silhouette, and their posture. They are the princes of the sky, and they know it. "“It’s like a gift,” we concluded, “to spot a wild animal."
A bit later, at the edge of the forest, there is a place with forest mice, and we made it a game to try and spot one. It’s easier each time."
Which connects to another quote from Ansell, on birds: "We watch them because of what they tell us about ourselves, and about our sense of what it means to be wild and free."

Free Reads:
This morning, i looked for e-books to take along on a longer drive, and arrived at some free mountain reads:

Currently Reading:
On a very different note, the books i am currently reading - but they also are about being wild and free, in some sense... more about them, next week.


And now, while typing, I remember that I actually have read about Wales before, in Bill Bryson's book: "Notes from a Small Island". It covers all of Britain, though. Will be interesting to see the other reads from Wales - here's and here's the link to the Wales page of the "Around the World in 12 Books Challenge!


Related Book Posts + Links

The previous mountain reads are online at: high altitude reading with Laotse, Liu, Shamsie in Tibet, China & Pakistan + travel memories

And here's a bit about Wales, from the wiki page: "Wales has been inhabited by modern humans for at least 29,000 years. Continuous human habitation dates from the end of the last ice age, when Mesolithic hunter-gatherers from central Europe began to migrate to Great Britain..." more about Wales


This blog post is inspired by the blog series "It's Monday! What are you reading?" which is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. participating blogs are listed in this Linky Book List

Previous reading blog entries are collected here: bookshelf: currently  reading... there also is a visual bookshelf, just click it to get there:

And my own new book... is Worl(d)s Apart. True.


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

If I could restrict myself to one genre it might be just travel narratives.

Here is my It's Monday.

The Relentless Reader said...

I can't tell you how much I adored The 100 Year Old Man. I hope you are enjoying it!

Happy reading :)

Erin @ Quixotic Magpie said...

Deep Country sounds very interesting! I have a few Welsh ancestors, and I am always looking for a good book about the region. Have a great week!

Dorothee said...

"If I could restrict myself to one genre it might be just travel narratives." - hi Deb, for me it's about the same: if i had to restrict myself to a genre, it would be travel narratives. but so good we don't need to restrict ourselves when it comes to reading :)

Dorothee said...

Thanks for the feedback. The 100 Year Old Man, i'm enjoying it already. And Quixotic: so interesting about your family connection to Wales. Will go visit your blogs now. Have a great week everybody!