Writer: Stephen Rutt
Publishing House: Elliot & Thompson
Date of Publication: October 15th (first published September 26th 2019)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’I feel eager for autumn. The birds punctuate my year: time passes constantly but birds are the grammar of its passing, they give a rough working order to the months. I have my totems: the first singing chiffchaff at the beginning of spring and the first screeching swift at its end. The silencing of song at the end of summer; the disappearance of the swifts and the arrivals of autumn. The extra thrushes: the redwings gently whistling through the autumn night and the fieldfares clattering along fruit-laden hedgerows.’’
Stephen Rutt creates a book that brings the breath of winter, the calmness of the freezing season, the very perfume of the icy trees and the Scottish nature in your living room. His love for the geese becomes an inspiration to overcome hardships and the insecurity of moving to a new place, and the changing of the seasons through the course of the various species of goose reflects the deep bond between Nature, her creatures and the human being through absolute respect, understanding and love.
Rutt paints with words. He writes about the significance of goose in Europe and China, through the history of our world’s cultural heritage since geese provided the quill pens used to ‘’create’’ the immortal works of Shakespeare. He refers to the legend of Juno’s sacred geese and the invasion of the Gauls, taken from the records of Livy and I was delighted to see a reference to Penelope’s dream of the princes as geese from Homer’s The Odyssey.
This book is a natural treasure to be read in one sitting and cherished forever.
‘’October by calendar; deep into winter by spirit. I can only faintly see the first line of hills. The trees reduced to pale grey shadows, their shapes indistinct in the weather: I see a flock of geese again, swirling like static around the television aerials, descending down to the fields behind the houses.’’
‘’November bleeds greyness into December. December’s dampness begins to freeze. Fog spends several days cloaking the street, shrouding the graveyard over the road. I walk through it – an impromptu Gothic wonderland – and down to the footbridge over the river, visibility so low that I can’t see either bend and it feels as if I am trapped in a cloche, my own bubble of the world, everything else dulled, hidden or gone. At night along the road, it is possible to see only the streetlamps and the way the freezing fog curves out from and defines their light, until it looks like a low-vaulted ceiling, the world a cloister of light strung up by each lamp post.’’
Many thanks to Alison Menzies, Elliot & Thompson and Stephen Rutt for the ARC.