cover image At the Water's Edge: A Personal Quest for Wilderness

At the Water's Edge: A Personal Quest for Wilderness

John Lister-Kaye, Canongate (IPG, dist.), $25.95 (314p) ISBN 978-1-84767-404-3

For 30 years, British naturalist ListerKaye (Nature's Child) has taken the same walk every day from his home in the Scottish Highlands to a nearby loch. In these "rekindled" observations from his field diary, he records the life humming on the "uncompromising" crags; he waxes on the beauty of peregrine falcons roosting on rock ledges, the happy clamor of osprey and otters feasting on trout, the poetry of photosynthesis, and as the seasons turn, he records the new litters, the migrations, and decay. If Lister-Kaye shifts his focus from the Highlands—to marvel at how tropical birds and flowers have evolved together, with "orchids mimicking butterflies and spiders," or sea algae's dependence on chemosynthesis—it's only to return ineluctably to his glen and its particular place in the world. This lyrical and precisely observed book (think Annie Dillard's A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek) is an ode to the wonder of nature, "its sublime design and grim function," the miracle of interspecies friendships, and a cri de coeur to find the political will for conservation. (Aug.)