Moun­tain book­shelf

Trail (UK) - - CONTENTS - Simon & Schus­ter

En­joy the outdoors, in­doors

Win­ter is coming, but what does that mean to you? Does it mean short frosty days on the hill fol­lowed by cosy nights by the fire? Does it mean grumpi­ness at the dark evenings and a pin­ing for spring? Or some­thing deeper?

For many win­ter is not good news, and is a time of year that car­ries lit­tle cheer. The apt acro­nym SAD (sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der) – some­times called the win­ter de­pres­sion, or blues – is a con­di­tion that ap­prox­i­mately one in fif­teen peo­ple north of the Earth’s 50th par­al­lel suf­fer from.

One of the things be­lieved to al­le­vi­ate it is em­brac­ing the outdoors. And it is this, amongst much else, which is the ba­sis of The Light in The Dark. The au­thor, Ho­ra­tio Clare, spends much of the book iden­ti­fy­ing his own sea­sonal con­di­tion – a cy­cle of feel­ing low, with in­creas­ing sever­ity, as the win­ters pass – and makes a per­sonal ex­plo­ration into the dark magic to be found even in the bleak­est cor­ners of the win­ter coun­try, its sky and the hu­man soul.

This is an in­tensely per­sonal, in­tro­spec­tive book – it is af­ter all, a jour­nal – and is per­haps more about one in­di­vid­ual’s bat­tle with the win­ter blues than win­ter as a thing in it­self. But Clare is a fine writer and as such draws you into the ex­pe­ri­ence, whether you iden­tify with it or not. Ini­tially, as a reader – who purely in­ci­den­tally, is for­tu­nate enough not to ex­pe­ri­ence such feel­ings con­cern­ing the darker sea­sons – I found the book in­ter­est­ing and di­vert­ing, but longed for more of the win­ter magic I was crav­ing. But as the book went on I did find my­self iden­ti­fy­ing with as­pects of Clare’s ob­ser­va­tions. I don’t mean this book made me de­pressed – that would be bad – more that it beau­ti­fully evokes the Bri­tish win­ter but pow­er­fully pairs it with the con­fused melan­choly it can bring. Clare doesn’t mirac­u­lously con­clude win­ter as ac­tu­ally a won­drous time; the book grasps for spring. But in so do­ing it takes you on a jour­ney which might give com­fort to those who suf­fer in win­ter, and un­der­stand­ing for those who don’t. Re­view by Simon In­gram

If you bat­tle with the win­ter blues, The Light in The Dark may pro­vide just the sea­sonal so­lace you need.

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