Category Archives: reading

Reading: A Shepherd’s Life

I realized the other day that though whatever book I am reading acts as a quiet undercurrent in my life I have never really mention what I am reading. So i thought it might be nice, every so often, to do a little post on whatever I happen to be reading at the time.

These days it’s A Shepherd’s Life by W.H Hudson. The book tells the story of shepherd Caleb Bawcombe and describes life in the county of I started this several times but somehow never got off the ground with it. This summer I picked it up again and began reading it, and this part I think is crucial, OUTSIDE, and that has made all the difference!

Of course, the landscape described is markedly different from what surrounds me, but somehow sitting with grass beneath and sky above me makes me appreciate detailed descriptions of the land. The author’s knowledge of every plant and bird makes me feel as though we all should know our places in the same way and be able to name and understand the life around us. The book is infused with an intimate knowledge of place and of land tied to history, something I never get tired off. A Shepherd’s Life was first published in 1910 and as Hudson records the stories of the characters, and the stories of their parents and grandparents one has a sense that what is now quite “ancient” history is closer somehow, tangible. I am only a third of the way through the book but so far two of my favourite moments are when the young boy Caleb  frees a bird being held captive under a hat while two boys fight over who is the rightful owner, and an abandoned baby who is baptized  Moses Found by his adoptive parents .

I can’t expect everyone to be as excited about this book as I am – I do have a rather odd fascination with this kind of things, and have just finished reading John Seymour’s The Countryside Explained and enjoyed the descriptions of historical farming practices…but, this is me!

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