As nature becomes ever more precious, we all want to spend more time appreciating it. But time is often hard to come by. And how do we appreciate nature without disruption? In this sensitively written book, Torbjørn Ekelund, an acclaimed Norwegian nature writer, shares a creative and non-intrusive method for immersing oneself in nature. And the result is nothing short of transformative.
Evoking Henry David Thoreau and the four-season structure of Walden, Ekelund writes about communing with nature by repeating a small, simple ritual and engaging in quiet reflection. At the start of the book, he hatches a plan: to leave the city after work one day per month, camp near the same tiny pond in the forest, and return to work the next day. He keeps this up for a year.
His ritual is far from rigorous and it is never perfect. One evening, he grows so cold in his tent that he hikes out before daybreak. But as Ekelund inevitably greets the same trees and boulders each month, he appreciates the banality of their sameness alongside their quiet beauty. He wonders how long they have stood silently in this place – and reflects on his own short existence among them.
A Year in the Woods asks us to reconsider our relationship with the natural world. Are we anxious wanderers or mindful observers? Do we honor the seasons or let them pass us by? At once beautifully written, accessible, and engaging, A Year in the Woods is the perfect book for anyone who longs for a deeper connection with their environment, but is realistic about time and ambition.
Torbjørn Ekelund is a writer, author of In Praise of Paths, and co-founder of Harvest, an online magazine documenting wilderness adventures, environmental issues, and our relationship with nature. He lives in Oslo, Norway.