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'To be with the mountain as one visits a friend'
on 31 October 2011
I read a raptuous review of this somewhere. The edition I bought from Amazon was Aberdeen University Press 1977, reprinted 1984. I hope the more recent editions look less like a school reader for nature study classes. The writing is intense, based on even more intense observations. In a passage on walking in the snow a gamekeeper's advice is quoted - 'in a blizzard don't keep going if you can't see your own footsteps behind you'. The trouble I found with Nan Shepherd's writing is that you can always see her footsteps ahead of you. This can become very irritating. A warning then to my kind of reader. I suppose it was the old lady living a hard life and talking to her cow in Gaelic that finished me. Don't let me put you off the rapture. The review I mentioned called it a minor classic.To help towards a decision, here is a sample paragraph (from p41 - the book is 95 pages long)
'But even in this scene of grey desolation, if the sun comes out and the wind rises, the eye may suddenly perceive a miracle of beauty. For on the ground the down of a ptarmigan's feather has caught the sun. Light blows through it, so transparent the fugitive spindrift feather has become. It blows away and vanishes.'
Having come this far I should mention the poetry of R F Langley and any writings on Scotland by F. Fraser Darling, e.g. Island Years, Island Farm.