Author Jules Pretty is Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex and Vice-President of the Essex Wildlife Trust. But fear not: The East Country is not a highfalutin academic journal. Jules is a ‘Suffolk boy’ through and through with his soul quite clearly at one with the land. This shines through in his eloquent, beautiful, poetic prose.
“At the bailey bridge, marsh fresh-green merged to salt, smudged with mauve of sea lavender, and then sharply to shingle, glistening brown and rust, tones of toffee, pink, violet, charcoal, and pearl. Rain pounded the open spit. The lighthouse disappeared beyond the pewter curtain, the columned pagodas too. Sky sounds and bouncing rain leached clear away the noise of the mind.”
Jules lives in the village of Nayland which sits in the Stour Valley on the Suffolk side of the Suffolk / Essex borders. This almanac covers 74 short tales of his journeys around the wonderful East Coast countryside that he clearly revers.
“The east coast is like no other place, yet it is every other place. These stories interweave several years in the valley and along the salty shore. There are twelve monthly acts to this almanac, and a spin in the scenes that binds us to nature, as it ever did.”
And as one would expect of an almanac, this book doesn’t just celebrate the countryside in glorious technicolour, but also provides all sorts of other information. He shares with us social happenings in the village, the death of his father, fascinating history of the areas he visits and, frequently, the questions he raises about the natural world and our relationship with it:
We are certainly inextricably linked to nature: “There will be a heavy cost to restoring a collapsed climate” ………. “Nature will carry on regardless. It is just that we may not.”
And yet we are becoming increasingly detached from the natural world. We value ‘stuff’ and fail to appreciate the beauty of the simple world of nature that is all around. We may not have an abundance of countryside on our doorstep, but the wonder of nature is close enough to be appreciated by all of us: “stare at the fine veins in a petal, the grain of a pebble.”
Jules brings all this to the fore in this book which, he states, is not a call to action. It isn’t. Well, certainly not in a loud and campaigning manner. This is a gentle book. Full of joy at the sights and sounds of nature. Yet wistful too.
Take this journey with Jules; wander around the beautiful countryside with him; share his time in the garden and with friends and family – good times, bad times, sad times; enjoy the history of the land and the people. Sit with him, surrounded by nature, as he wistfully muses upon the future.
Jules has also written the article Green Minds and Good Health which features on this website.