Gerald Durrell · life · reading

Nature, reading and who else but Gerald Durrell

I’m picnicking under a tall pine tree, slightly bent towards the river. Situated on the rocky ground, its roots were given the chance to play with their shapes – some decided to form a considerably wide, cozy-looking cave, while others, with a determined help of a boulder, made a set of steps leading to the entrance of the said cave and down onto the two square meters of welcoming beach.. The spot is enchanting – it looks like the perfect home for tomtar, gnomes, that I am in a serious danger of believing it really is.

Mild wind is blowing, gently disturbing the surface of the incredibly still river as if trying to make it flow a bit faster. The sun is high up in the sky, making everything very vivid and vibrant. There are birds, its names unknown to me, calling one another cheerfully from their branches of choice somewhere up in the treetops; and there’s an occasional dragonfly, beautifully royal blue, taking a rest on a leaf of a baby birch, only for a moment or two, before flying away on its business. The warm scent of pine is making the air sweet and the tiny blackberry bushes are already half way through to getting the berries deep purple and delicious. From above this all come the wailing and squawking of the seagulls that I love so much…

I have no books with me for I found it’s impossible to focus on a narrative when thus surrounded. I made several attempts during the previous weeks and failed every time:

On a first picnic, I was seated upon a great rock just at the root of a small and very narrow lake peninsula, rich with pine trees. There were no boats that day, no people around the summer houses along the coast either. Even the seagulls were quieter than usual. The sky was clear blue. The gigantic, shining white clouds were floating above the lake, almost too slowly to notice, and the faint rain started to tenderly poke its surface. I just sat there, gazing at this vast mirror stretching in front of me.

The second time, I was in the park on the other side of the lake, laying in the shadow of a birch tree. Small children were playing in the shallow, their parents sunbathing or watching over; a group of scouts was looking for some hidden treasure and, on the terrace of a guest house, sat small groups of people, having their meals and drinks. I thought I would have no problem concentrating on my book but my attention was soon caught by numerous wild ducks enjoying the warmth of the sun some five meters away. One of them went for a short swim and, getting out of the water gagged pensively across the earthy beach. Passing by my blanket, at a safe distance, he was eyeing me suspiciously, strangely resembling a wary, slim, and tall but slightly bent old man.. I almost burst out laughing.

Of course, I was not out in the nature day and night, so I did read. My choice, or rather, the only option since I really had no choice, was Birds, Beasts and Relatives and, consequently, The Garden of the Gods. Neither was as good as My Family and Other Animals (with Garden being better executed than Birds), but that is not to say they weren’t delightful. The usual combination of luscious descriptions of nature, of exciting animal observations and portraits, a palette of extraordinary guests and a bunch of hilarious family anecdotes was the only thing I could and wanted to read.

I am looking forward to adding these two to my collection… I hear his Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium is wonderful as well. Soon to be found out!

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6 thoughts on “Nature, reading and who else but Gerald Durrell

  1. After a very stressful period when I was ‘ordered’ to do nothing but relax I picked up a copy of ‘The Bafut Beagles’ which is an account of one of Durrell’s trips to Africa. I have rarely laughed as much over a book. If you like Durrell and can find a copy of this then I can really recommend it.

    1. He is wonderful isn’t he? Just the medicine one needs – relaxing and mood lifting…

      The way things are turning out it seems I will be reading nothing but Gerald Durrell on this trip. I noted down the title and will happily look for it.

  2. I have yet to sink into Durrell but I have the trilogy you speak of and it does need to get read real soon. There is not much in life that is an adequate distraction over books but nature is just the bee’s knees…you can’t beat just appreciating…I have a big smile on my face now.

    1. I do too, since today I was at the lake again tasting some of the blackberries and listening to the water and the seagulls. My eyes hurt a bit because I had no hat and I never wear sunglasses but, it doesn’t really matter..
      Oh, Durrell is a cake!

      1. I am well jealous of you…I long for proper nature and not the concrete world I seem to inhabit at the moment…it is nice to use all the senses when interacting with nature…to sit in silence and just be, is the best experience.

        1. Yes, exactly my thoughts – just be and watch everything around you be.. Better than books. :o I’ve said it!
          Hey, you’ll get your share, too, sooner or later..

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