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A refreshing & thoughtful look at the weather
on 18 March 2013
Richard Mabey is the best writer of Nature there has ever been, & he brings a refreshing outlook to an old subject. Mabey has spent his life on the trail of "weather phantoms", and thanks to this, Turned Out Nice Again is replete with such wonders: a Cornish wood that is tidal at the spring equinox, primroses temporarily flowering under the sea; a cave rainbow that flips over on its side to form a circle with a neighbour, the two surrounding him at chest level "like a fallen halo". But there are more ordinary delights here, too: a couple of children using the huge, rhubarb-like leaves of butterbur as umbrellas; a fledgling kingfisher that whirls by his boat on the Norfolk Broads and makes the day feel sunny even though it is not at all (for Mabey, a passing kingfisher is "a flash of fair-weather lightning"). He is not a winter man; as a depressive, its dinge makes him torpid and morose. But this doesn't mean that he doesn't thrill at the sight of a skater hissing across a frozen pond. As he looks on, the mud beneath his feet scrunches enjoyably "like creme brulee".
"There is really no such thing as bad weather," said Ruskin. "Only different kinds of good weather." Read Mabey, and you can almost believe the great man was right.