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Rain: Four Walks in English Weather (2016)

por Melissa Harrison

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907228,009 (3.91)48
THE COUNTRYSIDE, COUNTRY LIFE. A wonderful meditation on the English landscape in wet weather by the acclaimed novelist and nature writer, Melissa Harrison. Whenever rain falls, our countryside changes. Fields, farms, hills and hedgerows appear altered, the wildlife behaves differently, and over time the terrain itself is transformed. In Rain, Melissa Harrison explores our relationship with the weather as she follows the course of four rain showers, in four seasons, across Wicken Fen, Shropshire, the Darent Valley and Dartmoor. Blending these expeditions with reading, research, memory and imagination, she reveals how rain is not just an essential element of the world around us, but a key part of our own identity too.… (más)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (siguiente | mostrar todos)
This is genuinely lovely. The author, through 4 walks in different areas and seasons, tries to describe how the landscape changes in rain. She also makes the case that by only experiencing the landscape in nice weather you miss out on some great visual, aural and physical experiences. Like her, I'm not sure I quite believe Wainwright's statement "There's no such thing as bad weather, only poor clothing". There is something in that, but I'm not sure it tells the entire story. In these 4 walks she describes the delights of different rain types in the landscape and how a thunderstorm in summer has a different effect and impact to that of rain on already sodden ground.
I'm familiar with some of the areas she walks in, which makes this really evocative. I also agree that part of the delight of a landscape is in its response to changes in weather. Seeing it in sunshine is only ever part of the story. I run and while the first 5 minutes of a run in pouring rain is quite unpleasant, it soon becomes an experience in its own right. Contrast that to a run with a shower coming on while out, which can be a most pleasurable experience.
I read this tucked up in bed and it was a delightful read. ( )
  Helenliz | Jul 21, 2020 |
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley to read and write an honest review.

Over the summer you, may catch in a home a conversation that goes along the lines of:
‘Do you fancy a walk somewhere tomorrow?’

‘Why not; what is the weather doing?'

‘Raining! Shall we go to the pub instead?’

But not in Melissa Harrison’s house, where in the course of research for this slim volume, she actively sought out the rain and drizzle on her four walks around Wicken Fen in the Winter, near a village in Shropshire in the Spring then the Darent Valley during the summer and a damp Dartmoor in Autumn.

Most people abhor rain, mainly because it seems to arrive at the most inopportune moment, such as when the barbeque is lit, or the picnic blanket laid out. But this green and pleasant land needs regular doses of that life giving water. As Harrison walks, her keen eyes detect the blue blur of kingfishers, the way that the views are blurred and softened by the drizzle, and she brings the sound of rain on leaves in a wood and the way that the texture of the ground changes as the rain soaks in. There are other changes too as the rain descends; bird song fades away, replaced by the drum of water on your hood, insects hide under leaves and deer take shelter in the deepest part of the woods. Everything changes after rain too, the sun sparkles through water droplets, hedgerows and cattle steam and even a muddy puddle will shimmer. Everything feels refreshed and renewed.

It is also about the peculiar relationship that the British have with the weather, from the exhilaration of being in a thunderstorm to the smell of summer rain. There are lovely details too; we learn about the British Rainfall Organisation, an eccentric lot who collected rainfall levels from the mid nineteenth century until 1991 and an man called George Merryweather who’s invention using leeches to ring a bell when a storm was due, never really caught on. Picking up on something that Robert MacFarlane started last year in his book Landmarks, there is a glossary of local words describing precipitation in all its forms. There is the delightful ‘dringey’, a light rain that still soaks you through from Norfolk, and the honest ‘siling down’, no prizes for guessing that one from Yorkshire. It never fails to amaze me just how much our language is drawn from our locale and environment.

Harrison is a fine writer but up until now has only written fiction. Rain, her first foray into non-fiction, is keeping the standard high. She is able to convey the finest detail of her surroundings without a single wasted word of prose. I like the way she pulls snippets and facts into the narrative whilst still keeping it personal and familiar. It is evocative writing as well, and is worthy to stand amongst other British nature writers. But mostly it is a call to get back outside, regardless of the weather, to experience the natural world and the seasons as we were always meant to. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
‘’The village is far behind me now, its squat church tower lost in trees. The lane I walk is flanked by hawthorn hedges, and on the regress glossy hart’s tongue fens funnel the rain so it paddles in their centres where the new frods unfurl. There are bluebells, too, not the pushy, varicoloured hybrids that colonise my London garden, but English bluebells gybg with silver drops, delicately drooped like a shepherd’s cloak, and with a curious luminosity to their cobalt flowers.’’

Rain...one of the greatest gifts of Nature to her children. It nourishes and refreshes us. It creates a unique coziness that elevates our souls. And let us not forget that rain is a dream for us readers. However, rain can also turn into a strange enemy. Its ferocity combines with the endless ways we daily ravage Nature can lead to devastating results.

Walking in the rain is an experience in itself. Whether in a downpour or a drizzle, the smell of the trees, the sound of raindrops falling on our umbrellas, the pitter-patter on the roofs, our hasty steps on the pavements, whether in a hurry or a casual walk, rain is there to remind us of how alive Nature is, defining our moments. In Britain, rain has become a landmark. Speaking from personal experience, walking in the streets of London while the rain is falling is hard to describe. Imagine walking in the haunting British nature…

Melissa Harrison shares four walks in English weather, along with her thoughts on rain, its power, its whimsical tricks and its influence on our lives. Wicker Fen, Shropshire, the Darent Valley and Dartmoor, from January to October, Melissa Harrison leads us over the fens and moors, echoing the thunderclouds that have provided material for myths and folk wisdom for centuries.

Embellished with a glossary of 100 words concerning rain and related meteorological terms, this book asks you to curl up, preferably during a rainy afternoon, and let yourselves wander the moors in the finest company.

‘’And there’s something else that rain gives us; something deeper and more mysterious, to do with memory, and nostalgia, and a pleasurable kind of melancholy. Perhaps there have simply been too many novels with storm-drenched emotional climaxes, and too many films in which sad protagonists look out through rain-streaked windows, but it seems to me that rain is a mirror of one of our key emotional states: not a negative one at all, but deeply necessary- just as necessary as joy.’’

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com/ ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Nov 17, 2019 |
In this brief book, the author describes in almost poetic language four walks through the English countryside in rainy weather. Each walk was in a different season and a different county. The Eastern fens are January’s destination, Shropshire is April’s destination, Kent’s Darent Valley is the August destination, and Dartmoor in Devon is October’s destination. The author had personal connections to the region in three out of the four areas, and her familiarity with the landscape allowed her to compare her present experience with her memories of prior observations. The author’s reflections touch on geology, geography, zoology, history, literature, and, of course, meteorology. Each essay is illustrated by a Paul Binnie print. This book would be a welcome gift for almost any reader on any occasion. ( )
1 vota cbl_tn | Jan 7, 2019 |
Though set in England, many of the moods and descriptions fit my Pacific Northwest home. Black and white line drawings illuminate one walk for each season with Harrison's observations, research, readings, and memories. My favorite is Wicken Fen in January because I read a children's book set in the marshes in medieval times, Ely Plot by Joan Lennon, and I liked reading the particulars about it today. Fens are rare habitats in England, but vital for water preservation. Despite heavy rains and flooding in the fens, beauty may always be found: "A watery sun breaks through the cloud and dazzles off the lode as a kingfisher unzips the air above the water." Lovely, informative, pensive. Includes a fun glossary of rain words and terms. ( )
  bookwren | Dec 3, 2018 |
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And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower, / Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, / as here translated: / I am the poem of earth ... - Walt Whitman, The Voice of the Rain
The past hovering as it revisits the light. -Edward Thomas, It Rains
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For Dad, and for Mum and for Margaret and Tony
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Introduction: What does rain mean to you?
It is the end of January 2014, and I feel as thought it has been raining for weeks.
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A watery sun breaks briefly through the cloud and dazzles off the lode as a kingfisher unzips the air above the water. A blue dart, understood only in the inarticulate half-second after it passes, it almost takes the heart from my chest. (p. 12)
Closer at hand I find a single, tiny speedwell in flower, its blueness cowered in to itself; like the daisy, its petals close in wet weather to prevent its pollen being washed away. (p. 14)
Here and there the huge, dried umbellifers of hogweed are silhouetted against a sky smudged white and lemon at the horizon, which seems very far away. (p. 14-15)
As the sun sinks lower, and the temperature falls, the pattering rains slows imperceptibly and stops - and within moments we are rioted around by goldfinches with their end-of-school chatter; there are sudden greenfinches in the hedges, too, and great tits calling, and the silvery notes of a robin trickle like water from somewhere in the carr. They've been waiting out the rain and now's their last chance to feed before darkness falls, so they must make the most of it: it is as though the landscape has shaken birds from its hedges and thickets as my dog shakes water from her fur. (p. 16-17)
The church crouches stoically, its wet spire aloft like a finger held up to test the weather ... (p.64)
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THE COUNTRYSIDE, COUNTRY LIFE. A wonderful meditation on the English landscape in wet weather by the acclaimed novelist and nature writer, Melissa Harrison. Whenever rain falls, our countryside changes. Fields, farms, hills and hedgerows appear altered, the wildlife behaves differently, and over time the terrain itself is transformed. In Rain, Melissa Harrison explores our relationship with the weather as she follows the course of four rain showers, in four seasons, across Wicken Fen, Shropshire, the Darent Valley and Dartmoor. Blending these expeditions with reading, research, memory and imagination, she reveals how rain is not just an essential element of the world around us, but a key part of our own identity too.

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