Journeying in Place:
Reflections from a Country Garden

by Gunilla Norris

Crown, 1994. ISBN 0517597624.
Reviewed by Susan Wittig Albert
Posted on 01/08/2001

Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment

Gunilla Norris lives in a farmhouse on two acres of Connecticut woods and meadow. That is the small place that opens her to a quiet passion for the depth and breadth of life. "I have come to know that in these two acres there is intense and quiet activity that is happening twenty-four hours a day," she says. "I miss most of it. I get caught up in what must be done and therefore fail to experience the sunsets, the budding of the raspberries, the rusting of old farm implements in the earth, the building of wasp nests, and the death of old trees. But I feel the vibration of it all and I want to know this eventfulness better." The book is her way of exploring, and a gift of knowing that she generously shares.

Reading Norris's soft, tenderly observant prose, I feel that I know her woods and meadows and their seasons, and that I know her through the landscape she loves. And what I learn from reading her writing is the importance of the tiny things we often fail to see. The baby mice in the nest on the garage shelf, for instance, that show Norris (and me), how new we are: "Each time I come into newness I, too, am pink like this, pulsing, and vulnerable...New relationships, new dwellings, new jobs, new understandings. My eyes do not quite function. My skin is paper thin. It is always a sheer time, an intimate time, when, like all newborns, I need protection badly." A lot to be learned from a nest of baby mice! But it is in these exquisitely detailed observations that Norris shines, and brings us close to the center of her passion for place.

I found this book in a trio of Norris's writings published by Quality Paperback Book Club. You may have to look around to find it, but it's worth the search. And put her on your list of writers to watch for.

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