The turn of the seasons is steady and relentless. Winter is a time to batten down the hatches, and retreat inside from the weather and darkness. It is also a reboot for the natural world, the cold forces animals and plants to pause, reset and hold with the anticipation of longer days coming soon. But there is life out there if you know where to look, the promise of fresh green to come contained within sticky buds, birds eking out an existence as they flit from branch to branch in search of food. It is a time when you can be faced with biting cold, sparkling light and cloudy breath one day, followed by gale force winds soon after. The sun sits low in the sky, barely warming the earth; the horizontal rays make the stark skeletons of trees stand out against the skyline.
Melissa Harrison in this quite lovely collection of essays, poetry and extracts has drawn together some of our finest writers collective thoughts about this darkest of seasons. There are well known, comforting passages from some of my favourite writers like Kathleen Jamie and Robert Macfarlane, new words from Patrick Barkham and a raft of other authors that I now need to go and find out more about. It is a perfect little book for the season, something to read whilst sat in a comfortable armchair up with a glass or two of mulled wine to hand. 4.5 stars