For one of us (Ian), it is Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. For the other, it is Les Punaises Pentatomoidea de France, a guide to shieldbugs. If you spend time studying natural history, or even if you are a more casual naturalist, the book that you find most indispensable may well be a nature-manual, as it is for each of us.
The ostensible primary purpose of such books is to allow the quick identification of wild organisms. For many, unfortunately, this remains their only significant use. The two of us, however, have drawn (on different sides of the Atlantic) the same additional major benefit. Against a background of ongoing deep-green study, we have found that accentuating the experience of walking in wild places with the information in these books has done something remarkable. Out of objects it has forged subjects, subjects that are imbued with meaning and value and that have independent concerns.
Through this shift, our own worlds have changed. New relationships and value centres have become evident everywhere. And the realization has followed that we, too, are part of the immense and integrated