!!> Read ➵ Nature Cure ➸ Author Richard Mabey – Writerscompany.co.uk

Nature Cure A book that helped me to realise that I was not imagining that I was feeling better because I suddenly exposed myself to nature it was true and Richard Mabey helped me to find the vocabulary to express my new found contentment. Writing in The Guardian, Jonathan Bate says Nature Cure is several books in one an honest memoir of the experience of mental illness, a gentle but firm manifesto for a greener way of life, a compendium of delicate observation and curious nature lore.It is also, as he points out, a love song to John Clare, much admired by Richard Mabey Mabey calls his opening chapter The Flitting which is the title of Clare s poem about his disorientation on moving out of the house he had grown up in And C Writing in The Guardian, Jonathan Bate says Nature Cure is several books in one an honest memoir of the experience of mental illness, a gentle but firm manifesto for a greener way of life, a compendium of delicate observation and curious nature lore.It is also, as he points out, a love song to John Clare, much admired by Richard Mabey Mabey calls his opening chapter The Flitting which is the title of Clare s poem about his disorientation on moving out of the house he had grown up in And Clare makes repeated appearances in the later chapters of the book.One of the main reasons I read this book was as a sort of antidote to my recent reading of Ash Before Oak That book was a novel, a work of fiction, about a man with mental issues and his cataloguing of nature as means of helping him to recover I use the word cataloguing carefully, because the narrator of Ash Before Oak does not engage with nature but simply observes it as a way to keep his mind off darker things That book did not work for me and I decided to read, in response, this book in which a man of approximately the same age also heads to the countryside to meet with nature for his cure Both men spend time in a mental hospital Both men find a new female companion Both men take trips out of the UK towards the end of their cure But Mabey is farengaged with nature As I nowadays spend my time trying to be a photographer of the natural world, Mabey s approach resonates with me far.That said, Mabey s story isn t simply one of go for a walk every morning and nature will do the rest Mabey s life up to this point had been centred on nature writing about it was how he made his living His depression brought a very real fear that he would lose that connection As he gradually recovers, he writes several discourses on different topics related to the natural world He makes pleas for people to recognise the way nature works, to work alongside nature not seeking just to control or dominate it He writes at the time of the build up to the Iraq war and The Guardian review goes on to say The depression and the slow process of recovery are played out against the distant backdrop of the build up to the Iraq war and closer to home the relentless march of soil destroying agribusiness and soul destroying land development in East Anglia Mabey s experience of severance from the common ground thus becomes a little allegory of the larger scale ecocide that pervades modern capitalism and geopolitics.In effect, Mabey writes himself well again by focusing on topics of nature that he is afraid to lose connection with and writing passionately about these If you are interested in nature, you will find this a fascinating and informative book to read If you are not a nature fanatic , this book might be a bit harder work.Two quick notes about the Kindle edition I read On first mention, Mabey s companion is called Poppy, but is subsequently referred to as Polly Most reviews I have looked at suggest she is called Poppy, so I am not sure where the Polly came from Secondly, there are author s notes at the end of the book, but these are not indicated in the text so come as a bit of a surprise the Kindle takes you back from the notes to the right place in the book, but there is no indication in the text there is an associated footnote at any point A book which certainly helped me with my depressions, and Mr Mabey was kind enough to write back to me a couple of times, which was splendid of him And then, in late May, after all the false starts and unfulfilled days, summer opened as if it had simply been waiting for the right moment And not just any old summer, but what was to become a season of burnished colour and intoxicating smells that banished elegies for days like they used to be and burnt itself into Eastern England s collective memory By a stroke of luck, I was up at dawn on the morning it started There was a mist hanging over the back meadow, a thin milkiness that wasAnd then, in late May, after all the false starts and unfulfilled days, summer opened as if it had simply been waiting for the right moment And not just any old summer, but what was to become a season of burnished colour and intoxicating smells that banished elegies for days like they used to be and burnt itself into Eastern England s collective memory By a stroke of luck, I was up at dawn on the morning it started There was a mist hanging over the back meadow, a thin milkiness that was hard to tell from the blowsy lace of the last cow parsley Then the sun came up and simply parted it, unfolded the life of the new day from the wisps of the night That, it said, decisively was how it was going to be from now on I must admit to being entirely unfamiliar with the author Britain s foremost author of nature literature but was drawn to this book by a review by Neil who favourably contrasted it to the underwhelming Ash Before Oak , and when I saw it featured Breckland the area of my birth and childhood I had to buy itOstensibly the book is about the author, in the aftermath of a severe depression, moving from his family home in the Chiltern hills an area which he loved and where a period he even owned his own wood to the initially unusual to him, open flatlands and wetlands of Norfolk and there re finding his love of nature and by extension his love for life At the same time though it contains detailed reflections on the English countryside, on nature writing and nature loving.I found the author s developing reaction to the new countryside interesting Growing up in a farming area and then moving to the Surrey Hills where fields just seem to stand empty , I initially found the countryside somewhat artificial and museum like and could not think of somewhere as rural that had such proximity to London, airports and motorways although I now love the views of Leith Hill some ten miles distant from the desk where I am writing this review Mabey coming to a land of fir plantations, pheasant rearing estates and industrial farming has the opposite reaction although he falls in love with the watery openness of his new home Although the area where he lives is somewhat East of my childhood home I enjoyed the familiarity of Wayland Woods for him one of the few surviving ancient woods for me evoking memories of cross country torture and Grimes Graves.And as someone who has just bought a barn, a few miles from each of Salle and Corpusty, I loved these two separate passages I had favourite imaginary retreats the strings of villages in Norfolk s heartland Sall, Corpusty, Guist, Fulmodesten The barns themselves were flattened or made into smart houses I also though enjoyed the reflections on nature writing Of the limited nature books I have read, I have grappled with issues such as the nativist attitude to flora and fauna which seems both na ve what does native mean and very close to xenophobia the harking back to better days in the past the two attitudes together reminiscent of Brexit the obsession with naming observing recording nature rather than just enjoying it.Mabey addresses all of these there is a great and lengthy chapter on naming which I found honest, helpful and insightful he gives a balanced treatment of the idea of integrity of species, hybridisation and so on which is openly scathing of the Spanish bluebell debate see below and despite liking old fashioned technology he is open to things not always being better in the old days as the, beautifully written, opening quote shows Believers in steady state ecosystems and the integrity of our species have begun a myth that the aliens will hybridise our English bluebells out of existence a familiar line of argument to anyone who lives in an inner city Our two oak species, English and sessile, have been cross bredding freely for ten thousand years without the slightest sign of theone eliminating the other s pure stock Nature itself has scant regard for the purity of species, and has been experimenting with new combinations and launching mongrels on the world ever since life began My thanks to Neil for the recommendation Can nature heal a damaged spirit Mabey s story suggests that it can But what a long, wordy journey it was. Read for Literature and Environment.Reading Mabey s NATURE CURE in parallel to Macdonald s H IS FOR HAWK provided two interesting perspectives for the ways in which people, specifically writers, in hard times turn to nature and the ways in which they associate with it I m not sure if I will use this as a primary text I m yet to read Mark Cocker s CROW S COUNTRY but I definitely will use it in some way in my essay. Surprised, as I thought I d like this , given I ve liked Mabey s other works This just seemed a tad too self indulgent at times and went off on a few too many tangents. An interesting journey of someone pulling themselves with help out of their depression by emersing themselves into the natural world He describes well the smallest aspects of nature and the elements as well but sometimes I can almost sense that he is still somewhat depressed I d have liked to give it another half star or so but I did find he meandered off trail, so to speak, quite often Still, a good read. I recently started leading a series of birdwatching walks for City of Edinburgh Council s Outlook Project, which works with adults with mental health problems I felt that Richard Mabey s Nature Cure would be a great book to read alongside these walks, dealing as it does with the author s recovery from depression and his reaquaintance with the natural world.When Mabey became depressed, he was already a well known nature writer and the main argument in his book is that getting out into nature in I recently started leading a series of birdwatching walks for City of Edinburgh Council s Outlook Project, which works with adults with mental health problems I felt that Richard Mabey s Nature Cure would be a great book to read alongside these walks, dealing as it does with the author s recovery from depression and his reaquaintance with the natural world.When Mabey became depressed, he was already a well known nature writer and the main argument in his book is that getting out into nature in itself isn t necessarily a cure for depression, but rather that it is the building or in his case re building a personal relationship with nature.The book is less of a practical guide to nature therapy andof a personal memoir about moving to a different part of the country and learning the different landscape and wildlife, alongside musings on the historical human relationships with the natural world.As Mabey recovers, his powers of observation seem to intensify, allowing him to becomeandre engaged in the natural world around him His mental state remains fragile though as he worries about whether the usual summer migrants will return, the uncertainties of nature, specially in today world of so much environmental turmoil, feeding into his own uncertainties I hadn t heard the shrill flutings of the blackcaps that should have been abundant in the fens, or for that matter that first herald of spring, a chiffchaff Had they been diorientated too, blown off their traditional routeways by Mediterranean storms My nightmare, that those ancient ecological links with the south might finally be broken, wouldn t go away This is wonderfully beautiful meditation on the links between humans and nature and how, just as our connections with nature can help keep our minds whole, the damage we are, as a species, doing to those connections can cause dislocations in our mental health In The Last Year Of The Old Millennium, Richard Mabey, Britain S Foremost Nature Writer, Fell Into A Severe Depression For Two Years,he Did Little Than Lie In Bed With His Face To A Wall He Could Neither Work Nor Play His Money Ran Out Worst Of All, The Natural World Which Since Childhood Had Been A Source Of Joy And Inspiration For Him Became Meaningless Then, Cared For By Friends, He Gradually Recovered He Fell In Love Out Of Necessity As Much As Choice He Moved To East Anglia And He Started To Write AgainThis Remarkable Book Is An Account Of That First Year Of A New Life It Is The Story Of A Rite Of Passage From Sickness Into Health, From Retreat Into Curiosity It Is About The Adventure Of Learning To Fit AgainHaving Left The Cosseting Woods Of The Chiltern Hills For The Open Flatlands Of Norfolk, Richard Mabey Finds Exhilaration In Discovering A Whole New Landscape He Writes About The Changing Seasons In Prose So Exact And So Beautiful That Every Sentence Delights The ReaderBut Nature Cure Is Also Alarger Story In Finding His Own Niche, Richard Mabey Gained Insights Into Our Human Place In Nature He Reflects On The Inherent Value Of All Creatures On Our Presumptions That Mankind Is Superior On The Ancient Morality Of Commonland And Above All On The Role Of The Imagination Not As A Barrier Between Us And Nature, But As Our Best Way Back To It This Was His Nature Cure Not A Passive Submission To Nature, But An Active, Sensual Re EngagementStructured As Intricately As A Novel, A Joy To Read, Truthful, Exquisite And Questing, Nature Cure Is A Book Of Hope, Not Just For Individuals, But For Our Species


About the Author: Richard Mabey

Richard Mabey is one of England s greatest nature writers He is author of some thirty books including Nature Cure which was shortlisted for the Whitbread, Ondaatje and Ackerley Awards.A regular commentator on the radio and in the national press, he is also a Director of the arts and conservation charity Common Ground and Vice President of the Open Spaces Society He lives in Norfolk.


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