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‘Tim Dee can write brilliantly, beautifully, about anything, and Greenery…is perhaps his best book yet.’ Sunday Telegraph
One December, in midsummer South Africa, Tim Dee was watching swallows. They were at home there, but the same birds would soon begin journeying north to Europe, where their arrival marks the beginning of spring.
Between the winter and the summer solstice in Europe, spring moves north at about the speed of swallow flight. That is also close to human walking pace. In the light of these happy coincidences, Greenery recounts how Tim Dee tries to travel with the season and its migratory birds, making remarkable journeys to keep in step with the very best days of the year, the time of buds and blossoms and leafing, the time of song and nests and eggs. After South Africa, we follow European migrants staging in Chad and Ethiopia, and on across the colossal and incomprehensible Sahara. We accompany storks venturing the Straits of Gibraltar, honey buzzards dodging Sicilian hunters, and tiny landbirds finding haven on the curious island of Heligoland. A diary of the spring spreading through Britain with a magic trinity of oak-tree-loving birds interleaves the continental greening. We read of other determined spring-seekers: D. H. Lawrence and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. We hear from a Sami reindeer herder, a barn-dwelling swallow-devotee, an Egyptian taxi driver, a chronobiologist in arctic Norway. There are bears and boars and bog-bodies too.
Greenery is a masterpiece of nature writing, deeply informed, expansive and often profoundly beautiful. Tim Dee’s journey ends where the greenery of the European spring ends: on the shores of the Arctic Ocean in northern Scandinavia, where, yes, there are swallows in midsummer as there were at the Cape of Good Hope in December.
*A 2020 BOOK OF THE YEAR IN THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, NEW STATESMAN AND I PAPER**
Tim Dee follows the wake-up call of the wild, treading the path of migrating swallows from South African shores to Scandinavia. A colourful account of spring's awakening with tales from Sami reindeer herders also in the mix. * Wanderlust * A superb nature writer... Miraculous... Ardent, playful, quietly subversive - this is how Dee has always written, but his originality and learning mean he never needs to resort to the devotional swooning that has always plagued writing about the non-human world... It's a deeply affecting [ending]... The effect is like a painter's varnish, deepening shadows but intensifying colours. You go back to the start. -- William Atkins * Guardian * A joyful, poetic hymn to spring... [by] one of our greatest living nature writers... Greenery is an education in looking at, and loving, nature... It is a lesson in how to love the world, in how to look at it, and behind everything there beats a deeper message: that spring cannot exist without winter, that life needs death to define it. -- Alex Preston * Observer *
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