“when 1500 scientists, including 100 Nobel Laureates, petitioned the world in 1995 that serious remedies were required to halt the destruction of the living fabric of the Earth, their warning was ignored. Had it been 1500 economists warning of a stock market crash it would have got banner headlines and emergency government action.” – Bob Brown
Wow February just flew by! Thought I would use book snap to catch up on the month’s reading and create a post for anyone to link their monthly Gaia/nature reads to. So if you have read anything for the challenge just leave a link in the comments. I actually manged to read three books for the Gaia challenge, all memoirs and all great books. Two of the titles are pictured below with the simple props of my uber cheap snorkelling kit and the boots I use for bush walking. Brown is a committed bush walker and I particularly enjoyed Liptrot’s description of snorkelling in Orkney so they seemed like appropriate props.
Thanks to Karen at Living on the Downs for lending me her her copy of Bob Brown’s delightful memoir Optimism; Reflections on a life of action. Check out Karen’s review here. This was such an enjoyable read. It would be hard not to respect Bob Brown for his intelligence and commitment to environmental causes, but the combination of humanity, pragmatism and humility confirm him as an inspiring political figure and the Australian political landscape would benefit from more people like Bob Brown. This humorous and laconic memoir looks back on Brown’s career, his early evolvement with environmental causes like the Franklin river campaign and Brown’s eventual move into politics.
This is an undeniably delightful book filled with humour and humanity and while I enjoyed the insight it gave into Brown’s years in Federal politics it was some of the more personal and almost incidental chapters that I enjoyed most, like his story of being called by a farmer to treat “Strawberry” a Friesian milk cow after she became entangled in barb wire. Not the normal house call a new doctor might be expected to make. The resultant episode involved Brown crawling beneath a distressed cow in order to try and cut her free from the wire, in her distress the cow did what dairy cows do so well and released a flood of liquid manure on her unsuspecting rescuer. Perhaps good training for the future politician, as I am sure he has had to deal with a lot equally unpleasant political manure in his time in federal parliament. Thankfully Bob Brown is a man who can see the light and humour in life and not just the darkness.
It is Brown’s empathy, no doubt nurtured by his own experience of prejudice that gives him insight and compassion when dealing with others and make him such an appealing political figure. As if being green was not enough, Brown is also openly gay, standing as a voice for the LGBTI community as much as the environment. Yet despite all of the hard fought battles, Brown has remained optimistic and engaged with making the world a better place and that is something we can all admire and attempt to emulate because a life of optimism and activism is all we really have, pessimism and despair are no option at all. Brown writes eloquently about his love of the Tasmanian landscape and environment but it is on the bigger issue of global threats to our environment that he is most passionate.
Since I have also signed up for Shelleyrae’s 2021 Nonfiction challenge I will also claim Optimism as a read for that challenge and tick off the Biography section. My other two nature related reads this month have also been memoirs. Most recently I read Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun, her account of confronting her alcoholism and returning home to the Orkney Islands to recuperate. I actually found the first 80 odd pages a bit hard going and I had this overwhelming desire to want to slap the young Amy and say grow the !@#* up! I am being a bit harsh on Amy Liptrot but I did just want her to recognise what was happening and escape from the cycle. Sometimes recognising what is actually going on is a hard leap to make and not everyone successfully escapes from such patterns of self destruction.
The secret to Liptrot’s continued sobriety seems to be her retreat into a nature cure via a return home to the wild’s of Orkney. She walks and swims herself to wellness and a new found ease with herself. Liptrot finds work counting corncrakes that most endangered of British birds and this close contact with the natural world seems to help set her on the path to recovery. She finds peace and connection in experiencing the northern lights or “the merry dancers” as they are called in Orkney. The wild windy landscape gives her a new strength and she does beautifully evoke that isolated part of the world. I particularly enjoyed her description of snorkelling on Orkney, not something I would normally think of doing is such cold and wild seas:
I don’t have to keep moving, I just float on my front, observing what’s around, moving with the tide, like a corpse. I forget I am floating on the surface and feel I am deep on the ocean bed. I use my hands to drag myself over the rocks, parting seaweed, looking for sunken treasure. Hermit crabs cram themselves back into their shells at my approach. I see red anemones and paddle-worm eggs – tiny balls of electric green strands in jelly, linked by stalks to the rocks…
….Usually we see seaweed at low tide on the shore and jellyfish washed up dead, but under water they come alive. Going a little deeper, I’m surrounded by seaweed and kelp of vivid greens and browns and reds standing up straight and swaying – it’s like I’m in a lush forest.
I am exploring a very strange environment, like being in space. It reminds me of the thrill I got the first time I went to a dark nightclub under the railway arches in the city, seeing ornate Goths and pierced metallers; the thrill that I could be among these exotic and tattooed creatures, that it was so easy to walk into a world I’d only seen in films and music videos. Under water, I feel like I’ve gone through the looking glass. (p256)
I did read one more nature related read this month but I will post on that one separately. If you read anything for the Gaia/nature challenge feel free to leave a link in the comments.
#BookSnapSunday is a weekly bookish Instagram meme hosted here at Gum trees and Galaxies.com, if you would like to join in please feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments below. All you have to do is post an image of a book. Happy reading!