The Old Ways - Robert Macfarlane
Welcome to the world of shielings, orthliths, and zawns. In the third chronicle of his travels, the mountaineer and prodigious walker Robert Macfarlane introduces The Old Ways (Viking, $27.95) of Britain, its coastal islands, and the water routes in between. Traversing a variety of drove roads, pilgrim paths, and green lanes, some so old and half-forgotten that they’re more legend than passage, Macfarlane meditates on a past that kept our species in motion around fields and shores; he calls this work “biogeography” and traces the reciprocal shaping of landscape and human practices. But if his rigorous hikes and sea voyages in a tiny, century-old craft give him a taste of previous eras, they also root him firmly in the here-and-now. As he describes the sounds, smells, and sheer spectacle of being awakened by skylarks before dawn or watching the sunset shatter in a set of bog pools, he offers some of the crispest, most immediate nature writing around.