The natural antidote

When the Norwegian Torbjorn Ekelund learned that he was epileptic, they also informed him that he would not drive again. “I have heard of people who experience the fact of not being able to use the car as a greater burden than the disease itself. How would it affect me? ”Ekelund wondered. Within a few weeks she felt a “liberating” sensation. “I modified my routines and I didn’t miss anything. The rhythm slowed, the pulse dropped, and the world revealed itself to me in a way that I hadn’t done since I was a child. ” Then, he resumed a childhood habit: walking. One walk led to another and he ended up writing Walking trails, where he mixes his walking experiences with the periodic movements of human beings and animals while he reflects on the fact of moving following routes traced by others.

The publisher of Walking trails, Volcano, has also published this course Diary of a young naturalist, by Dara McAnulty, the boy with autism who tells of the year he had to move from one end of Northern Ireland to the other, between the ages of 14 and 15, leaving his beloved Big Dog forest but maintaining the link with that nature that connects you to something much bigger than people. “Lying under the oak I feel a surge of power surging under the ground,” he writes, “the roots winding around me, a tireless energy that feeds me with its strength.” An energy that also encourages you to write. To communicate better.

Cover of ‘Diary of a young naturalist’, by Dara McAnulty.EDITORIALVOLCANO

Nature as an infallible healer and trigger of creativity has a milestone in Annie Dillard. In his mid-twenties, Dillard settled in the Appalachians to deal with pneumonia. The disease and the calm allowed her to take care of the many ugly or strange creatures -but key to the ecosystem- that surrounded her in a different way and they ended up starring A season at Tinker Creek (Errata Naturae), considered one of the best essays? —They pigeonholed her there— twentieth-century Americans. The book opens with a giant bug sucking on a frog. Dillard presents a universe of possibilities unavailable to the urban, and finds in the alternative and even “horrid” the conditions to literally breathe better … also relying on a constellation of artists related to his ideology, hence this quote from Van Gogh: “The The fact is that we are real life artists and the important thing is to breathe as hard as we can ”. Art and nature cleared the lungs of Dillard, who three years after his arrival in the woods, in 1974, at 29 years old!, Signed this masterpiece.

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The poison, among other things, helped Sue Hubbell overcome the traumatic separation from her partner. The breakup came shortly after they left town to settle together in the Ozarks of Missouri. The tandem did not work out and Hubbell opted for beekeeping. As it counts in A year in the woodss (Errata Naturae), learned to inoculate bee venom to boost the immune system while feeding flies to frogs by listening to Händel, Mozart or Albinoni. And he revived so comfortably that since then he would write several books about that daily life.

Cover of 'A Year in the Woods', by Sue Hubbell.
Cover of ‘A Year in the Woods’, by Sue Hubbell.Errata naturae

More extreme is the case of Elisabeth Tova. In her early thirties she fell bedridden victim of a nervous system dysfunction. He couldn’t move. One day, a friend brought her a snail to accompany her. He began to observe it. To listen to it. The sound of a wild snail eating (Captain Swing) reveals the precious exercise of intimacy that put Tova on the trail of snails, investigating from gastropod biology to the extensive literature on this hermaphrodite that provoked authors such as Poe, Calvino or Patricia Highsmith, in addition to many haikus Japanese.

“The snail lived its slowness restricted in a small geographic area (a terrarium) normally, and observing it helped me accept my circumstances and feel less restless and resentful,” says Tova from her home in Maine. By then he had written essays and short stories, but needed more space to “honor the snail and talk about the importance of environmental issues as well as share an unusual personal story and, he hoped, open a way to help other patients.”

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The snail became her ideal guide, he proposed challenges to her — sometimes he disappeared — and encouraged her to learn more about him, encouraging her to continue to serve her well. Tova can now get out of bed, but her illness is chronic. However, this award-winning book has put her in contact with people around the world, giving her excitement.

Cover of 'The sound of a wild snail when eating', by Elisabeth Tova.
Cover of ‘The sound of a wild snail when eating’, by Elisabeth Tova.

Training a hawk was Helen Macdonald’s “natural” shock to the disquieting upheaval caused by her father’s death. Macdonald established an electric relationship with the goshawk Mabel, and that alliance propelled her to write H for hawk (Attic of the Books), a classic as it shows how far the connection between humans and wild animals can console.

The death of a loved one is also at the origin of The illuminated pasture, novel by Alejandro López Andrada rescued by Almuzara after 30 years. The Cordovan, one of the very few authors who has kept the flame of the liternatura In Spain, it was released in the genre with this fiction very attached to real events in which the narrator, anguished by the death of his young love in an accident, takes refuge in his house in the town finding a healing serenity in the environment. This is a significant editorial recovery that, in times of pandemic and collapse, hints at imminent works on nature written in Spanish. That they are as good as “healthy” remains to be seen.

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