“Properly recording the beauty and awe of nature to keep people intrigued is what a nature writer can do,” says Helen MacDonald (age 51), an English nature writer in an written interview with The Dong-A Ilbo. “Unfortunately, we live in terrible times for dealing with environmental issues,” she said. Awarded the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa Book prize for ‘H is for Hawk,’ published in 2014, MacDonald recently released a new essay titled ‘Vesper Flights’ (Published by Panmidong in Korea). ‘H is for Hawk’ is the author’s story of the year when she trained a wild goshawk in the wake of her father’s death. The book sold more than 20,000 copies in Korea. Her new book describes the coincidental moments of interaction with nature in her uniquely delicate style.
“People do not love the things they do not know well and do not fight to save what they do not love,” the writer said. She said that a small pine forest located 30 minutes away from her home had been recently destroyed due to extension of a road construction. She said it was the most heart-breaking personal experience that happened to her lately.
She is interested in helping people understand and feel the wonder and insight of nature in the city as well, as urban dwellers have limited opportunities to interact with nature. She explained that people tend to believe that wild landscape remotely located from the city can give insight, but she argues that is not true. For example, you can be working from your office and spotting a flying bird, which can be interaction with nature. You can view the world from a bird’s perspective, or you can image a world where humans have become birds. The thought itself helps you relieve the burdens of everyday life. “Closely observing a non-human creature creates magical-like powers,” she said.
What would urban dwellers need to closely observe wildlife? The author advises that a small, illustrated wildlife book and a pair of secondhand binoculars would do. “It might be difficult at first to get used to the binoculars,” she said. “But if you patiently wait, you will find that shy creatures that are usually difficult to approach will allow a special access.”.