VESPER FLIGHTS: New & Collected Essays by Helen Macdonald examines how we bring our prejudices & politics to notions of the animal world. Essays are short, varied, highly edible. Work is an antidote to so much romantic, reductive writing about our natural world as pristine, mysterious, uninhabited as a blank canvas for a hero’s journey of self-discovery.
Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done. Most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.
Meditating on notions of captivity & freedom, immigration & flight, Helen shares most intimate experiences – observing massive migrations of songbirds from the top of Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking last golden orioles in Suffolk’s poplar forests. Writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boars, mushroom hunting, strangeness of bird nests & the unexpected guidance, comfort we find when watching wildlife.