4 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
In 1999 Ruth Pavey bought her tiny patch of Somerset and it has been a place of refuge for her. It was scrubland initially, and she has replanted it and knows almost every tree in there. This book is a year in the life of her woodland. Even though it is a tiny oasis in the modern factory-farmed countryside until recently it had harboured a wide variety of life. But one day she notices that there are not as many rabbits around as there used to be, in fact, she can’t remember when she saw the last one.
She sets about trying to work out what had happened to the population of rabbits and this makes her think about the wider effect that the climate crisis is having. She gets help from experts to look for and list the species that they find in the woods. It makes for quite an interesting list of plants and birds, but she knows that there are not as many there used to be.
Over the course of a year, she has a constant stream of family and friends visiting. Some are there to help with the maintenance and other tasks and there are picnics and an evening of moth trapping and planting of trees for the longevity of the wood. She wants to know who owned the woodland originally and the search for the Sugg family takes her to local history experts in the area teasing details out from the records. But mostly this is about having wood of her own to spend time in alongside the natural world.
I thought that this was a really lovely follow up to her first book, A Wood of One’s Own. The wood is no longer new to her and after two decades of owning it, she is realising that it still needs as much care and attention as it did when she first bought it. Her prose is gentle and reflects how much she loves spending time here. But in amongst the gentle breezes that rustle the leaves in her wood is a mirror on the wider world and how even a place like this that has not been drenched in chemicals can be affected by the wider ecological catastrophe that is happening. It really makes me want to own a little patch of woodland I can call my own.