The Nature of… Jim Crumley

Jim Crumley is a nature writer whose books I’ve referenced before in blog posts, as indeed have others on their blogs. Among Jim’s books a longtime favourite of mine has been his timeless classic A high and lonely place – a eulogy to The Cairngorms and one which prompted this post back in 2014. Both celebratory and unafraid to confront the issues – many of which endure to this day – it is both a good read and a work of reference.

Most recently I’ve read the two connected works in the series The Nature of… and am hopeful that there will be two others to follow. Both books are written with an intimacy and perspective which can only derive from patience and exposure – the latter possibly in more than one sense of the word. Most of all there is that most scarce and precious of commodities – original thought; something which, in these soundbite days, seems as elusive as the native wildcat which he and I would love to know were out there, moving secretively through the forests of Rothiemurchus and Inshriach.

Here’s an example: it’s taken from The Nature of Autumn

“And the first day of autumn is the beginning of everything, the first stirrings of rebirth. The forest fall thickens the land with limitless tons of bits and pieces of trees. The earth is hungry for food: all spring, all summer, it has been thrusting life upwards and outwards, and by the last day of summer, it is tired. Autumn is the earth’s reviver and replenisher… ”

On first reading, this runs counter-intuitive to my programming: unquestioningly I’d accepted that the natural order of the seasons was spring, summer, autumn, winter – emergence, abundance, slow-down, shutdown. Having your perceptions challenged is never a bad thing and, with the benefit of a different perspective, it makes sense to see autumn as very much the opening step in a new cycle – one which incubates during the winter months; dormant but already primed. From the perspective of our most northerly latitudes it makes absolute sense.

Original thinking challenges us and, who knows, perhaps might encourage us to develop it as a skill of our own. How could that ever be a bad thing?


The Nature of Autumn and The Nature of Winter, are both written by Jim Crumley and published by Saraband.




6 thoughts on “The Nature of… Jim Crumley

  1. Hi Alan, there’s some good nature writing around at the moment; and some good stuff from years past as well. I like Jim’s books and I often end up thinking “He’s right about that, but it would never have occurred to me”. I suppose that’s why he’s the professional…


  2. We’ve had the pleasure of hearing Jim speak several times, most recently at Pitlochry’s Winter Words Festival in February. The basis of his talk was his book ‘The Nature of Winter’ and as usual it was a thoroughly enjoyable hour.

    His series of books ‘Encounters in the Wild’ are also well worth reading if you haven’t already.

    Like you we have enjoyed Jim’s evocative writing for many years.


  3. Sorry Dave, that last post is from me but appears under a different name for some reason. I wonder what will happen this time!



  4. Hi Gibson, hope Lynne and yourself are both keeping well. I’ve had real problems of late trying to comment on other peoples’ blogs, including one on your own where I was trying to respond to your post about model kit building. Three or four attempted comments on Alan S’s blog have just disappeared without trace once the ‘Publish’ button has been pressed.

    I’m gradually working my way through Jim’s back catalogue – interspersed with other stuff as well – and I always hope a visit to Scotland might coincide with one of his talks. Last time I was in Pitlochry I was disappointed to see that Munros was closing down at the end of its lease, although they were retaining the shop they have in Aberfeldy. Never like to see independents struggling.


  5. Hi Dave, WordPress and Blogger need to get their act together and make commenting on different platforms easy. I haven’t a clue how to help you comment on my blog unfortunately. Fewer and fewer people seem inclined to comment these days anyway, but then I’m blogging less and less! A downward spiral!

    I think Munros found the competition from Mountain Warehouse too much, the usual story when big chains move in to town.

    Hope you ate well – sorry Dave I don’t know your wife’s name.



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