Book of the month: Claxton

claxton swan©Jonathan Gibbs, from Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet by Mark Cocker

Nature writer, bird obsessive and Buxton boy Mark Cocker has recently been appointed Ambassador for Friends of the Peak District, a role that should present few problems for someone so passionate about the landscapes and wildlife of his childhood. Mark no longer lives in the Peaks – he has been happily ensconced in the rather flatter, but equally pretty Norfolk countryside for many years – but his affectionate and continuously curious writings on the nature that surrounds him transcend county borders. It’s beautifully observed and gorgeously written stuff, to which I can only aspire.

This month’s book pick is Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet, Mark’s collection of writings about the wildlife around his Norfolk home (plus a few lovely bits about Derbyshire). It’s a few years since it was published, but it’s a new discovery for me and the perfect book to start reading in January as the book describes the landscape around Claxton through the year.

“10 January 2011

…For all this, as I walk by the Yare there is the faintest hint of change. Perhaps the reason for this lies entirely elsewhere: our technical knowledge of the date and increment in the season. Perhaps it is the fact that the decorations are all now stowed and the pine needles swept away. Yet there is a sort of bright note in the air, hard to define or to lay to any cause, but it is there indisputably, and if I should give it a name, I wouldn’t call it the start of spring. It is more the end of lifelessness.”

Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet by Mark Cocker. Published by Jonathan Cape.