Autumn and Winter – Tarantino otters and flaming skies

Autumn cover.inddIt’s been a while since I last wrote. Though, technically, that’s not entirely true – I’ve done very little but write lately, though that’s for publication another day, and more of which in due course. What I really mean is that it’s been a while since I blogged.

Bad, bad Jon… So by way of making good that deficiency, here’s a short blog post about a project I’ve been involved with this year.

I was absolutely thrilled earlier this summer to be asked to contribute essays for the Seasons natural history anthologies, edited by Melissa Harrison, and published in support of the Wildlife Trusts by Elliot & Thompson. They’ve each come out synchronously with the turning of the seasons this year, and are beautiful things packed with lovely writing – prose and poetry, from writers past and present. There are famous names and pieces you’ll surely recognise, and then there’s the joy of discovering new contemporary writers who do wonderful things with words.

I came to the party midway through, so I have essays in Autumn and Winter. Both are Shetland-based – it’s been good to fly the flag for my adopted home, though with that comes the great responsibility of wishing to do these spectacular islands justice…

My Autumn essay was all about Otters – or rather, one animal in particular. We’ve all seen them on Springwatch, and I’m as guilty as the next naturalist of eulogising them to the point of cliché – so I wanted this essay to be a somewhat more unusual perspective on them, an insight into their lives that, perhaps, sheds some fresh light on how they coexist with man in the islands. A less Tales of the Riverbank and more Reservoir Dogs angle…

Winter cover.inddFor Winter my thoughts turned to Up Helly Aa and the unpredictable but magnificent aurora borealis, or mirrie dancers as they’re known here. Both are lightshows you should head north to see at least once in your lifetime. I’m blessed that, living in the islands, I can see either or both annually – and have tried to share some of the magic with the reader. Really though, seeing is believing – so you’ll just have to come to Shetland!

In the meantime, both books (and their predecessors, Spring and Summer) are available from all good booksellers. Money raised from their sales will be going to support the fabulous work done nationwide by the Wildlife Trusts – also supported this year by John Lewis. (Have you seen their TV advert?!) There’s a boxset of all four volumes coming out any day soon – it’s got Christmas present for the nature lover in your life written all over it.


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