The Stubborn Light of Things: A Nature Diary (2020) is set in rural Suffolk, England, from 2014 to 2020.
The author takes her dog for a stroll, observes nature, and begins writing about it. She lives in South London in a leafy area with parks. She becomes an activist in the protection of small wooded areas. Having a dog changed the way she saw the natural world and the cycle of the seasons. She writes of squirrels, pigeons, eagles, and ladybirds.
She moves from the city to the country – and a whole lot of new creatures and plants enter her life: ‘My cottage looks out over a water meadow home to rabbits, hares, visiting fieldfares, pheasants, rooks, and many moles.’
She gets excited with each new discovery, and she loves watching nature as it grows and matures. She gets upset with each claimed land: ‘These are unsettled times, acute geopolitical tensions playing out against a backdrop of devastating environmental loss. Small wonder that we need the reassurance of circling seasons and their natural markers, like swallows …’ The author does write about swallows, but also kestrels and snowdrops, hedgehogs and dandelions, chiffchaffs and violets.
Melissa Harrison’s lifework is connecting people to nature. While much of this work was written during the COVID-19 pandemic, amid her own garden, it connects others to her sights and sounds, and all of her emotions.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls