The Reading Room

Nature Cure

Review of Nature Cure by Richard Mabey…

Richard Mabey is one of Britain’s finest nature writers, his landmark book Food For Free (1972) showed us all the rich and natural larder to be had on our very doorstep. He inspired so many to take a closer look at their countryside, woodland and rivers that he became a quiet inspiration and leading light of our natural heritage.

It is easy to assume that such a man who writes books about nature leads an enviable life but in this 2005 book, Nature Cure, we see that Mabey’s life was, at one point, anything but enviable. Between 2000 and 2002 he suffered a debilitating bout of depression, lost his mother, endured financial hardship and found himself hospitalised as a result of his spiralling mental health issues.

This then, is the story of his relocation to the Norfolk Broads and to stay with friends in a bid to find some inner peace and inspiration. Maybey does not seek sympathy, his account is candid and compelling and a reminder of our own fragilities. That a certain stigma over mental health still lingers in this age is a blight on us as a society but the author writes with such beauty that his story should offer hope for anyone who is struck down by such an illness.

I have long been an advocate of the healing properties of the countryside, by no means a miracle cure, it does, however offer a chance for respite, unpolluted air, a moment for clarity of thought and most importantly, an escape from the pressures of modern day living. It has been a practice which has evolved through the centuries, the author tells us of the Roman saying ‘solvitur ambulando’ which loosely translates as ‘you can work it out by walking’ and there is much to be said for that.

Maybey writes beautifully, his depiction of our natural world in all its everyday glory is a thing of joy. We need his like and more especially, nature’s cure more than ever.

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