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5.0 out of 5 stars
The Cadence of the Seasons, 9 April 2013
In order to write his nature diary, Thoreau lived as a hermit in the woods. Esther Woolfson has written hers, while living with her family in the Scottish city of Aberdeen. This contrast shows how our perspective on nature has changed over the last two centuries or so. We no longer think of nature as a place but, rather, as a dimension of experience, usually present yet very easy to ignore. For this reason, Woolfson's Field Notes of a Hidden City is even more profoundly introspective than Thoreau's Walden. Woolfson looks at manifestations of the natural world in an urban setting, such as squirrels, mice, pigeons, crows, and granite in terms of personal experience, science, and history. Like Walden, Field Notes is organized according to the seasons, which, like the rest of nature, must now be rediscovered. The rhythms of the year seem to be present in the wonderfully steady cadences of her prose.
Full disclosure. I am a friend of Esther Woolfson. Does that make me biased? Maybe, but I would have written much the same thing if that were not the case.