The Eternal Season by Stephen Rutt
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
We will all have stories to tell of what 2020 was like for us. Some of us may even write about them, but few will have the unique perspective of the naturalist that Stephen Rutt has in The Eternal Season. Not only is this a tale of his summer and its margins, but a look at how things were and might be. It is a well referenced book, packed with relevant facts about what the author sees, how they have changed and what predictions we might expect.
It’s an insight into how migratory species mark time and how this has changed over the years and will be likely to further change. It is a mix of science, lore, observations and experiences carefully told by an accomplished author who is making his mark as one of the modern greats of nature writing.
The chapters are interspersed with little vignettes of species or key moments and these are in some ways the best parts of the book, carefully intertwined they bring the book as a whole together. A whole that minds us to look not just at the present but at what the future may bring.
Many of us reported how much more of nature we saw when in the midst of lockdown, remarking that it was as if without our constant presence nature breathed again. Perhaps this is true but more likely we were just more present to what was going on around us. The Eternal Season talks to those of us who were noticing parts of the natural world we have not seen before or failed to observe and what that might mean. Stephen Rutt is the expert who can help translate the natural world for us through his own feelings and observations.
The Eternal Season is a book not just for this summer or this year but for all seasons through time.
From the Publisher
None of us will ever forget the summer of 2020. For Stephen Rutt it meant an enforced stay in rural Bedfordshire before he could return to the familiar landscapes of Scotland’s Dumfries. But wherever he found himself, he noted the abundance of nature teeming in our hedgerows, marshlands, and woodlands – the birds, butterflies, moths and dragonflies, bats, frogs and plants that characterise the British summer.
Yet in his explorations of the landscapes and wildlife at the height of the year, he also began to see disturbances to the traditional rhythms of the natural world: the wrong birds singing at the wrong time, disruption to habitats and breeding, the myriad ways climate change is causing a derangement of the seasons.
The Eternal Season is both a celebration of summer and an observation of the delicate series of disorientations that we may not always notice while some birds still sing, while nature still has some voice, but that may be forever changing our perception of the heady days of summer.
About the Author
Stephen Rutt is a 29-year-old award-winning writer, birder and naturalist, originally from Suffolk. ln 2019 he published his first two books, The Seafarers and Wintering: A Season with Geese. As a teenager, he interned with
Birdguides.co.uk and in 2015 he spent seven months at the bird observatory in North Ronaldsay.
He lives in Dumfries and his writing has appeared in the Big Issue, Caught by the River, Daily Mail, Scotsmon and Guardian among others.
The Seafarers, his debut, attracted comparison to the likes of Amy Liptrot, Adam Nicolson and Tim Dee. It won the Saltire Society First Book of the Year was longlisted for the Highland Book Prize and was the recipient of a Roger Deakin Award. Wintering was a Times’ Book of the year. Both books are available as Elliott & Thompson paperbacks.
The Eternal Season – Ghosts of summers past, present and future is published on 1st July 2021 by Elliott and Thompson.
[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]