As part of our continuing tribute to Roger Deakin, two of our treasured contributors share their thoughts and reflections:
From Sue Brooks:
Hello to whoever is reading this…..I’m attaching a photo of a faded cutting which has been on my kitchen wall since 2007. It’s the first time I sent anything to the Guardian Reader’s Books of the Year, which goes out the Saturday after Christmas. I can remember clearly driving to the little shop about 2 miles away on that Saturday morning, sitting outside in the car for maximum delayed gratification, buying the paper and back to the car to fumble through the pages. Was it there…?? It was. WOW. Thank you Roger. Thank you. And the memory of the other drive to the Lido at Lydney – a concrete hole in the ground beside the A 48 which I had never seen before. Through the gates to an empty pool, the water clear and unheated, swimming up and down on my back with Lydney church spire and huge oak trees appearing and disappearing against a blue sky. Eyes full of tears, thinking of his death, but also of the exhilaration of what I was doing. The feel of it, sensuous, elemental, ALIVE. This is how I remember that day – because of Roger, the way he wrote and the way he lived his life.
From Melissa Harrison:
The first of Roger’s books I read was Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, back when it came out in 2009. I came to him through Robert Macfarlane, as I suspect many people did, my sense of discovery tempered by sadness at learning that he had so recently died. I fell deeply in love with Walnut Tree Farm, and immediately read Wildwood, too; I was devouring books about the natural world at that time, although I had not yet begun to write, and books like his became touchstones, vital to me finding my own voice. There’s a playfulness in his writing, coupled with what feels like an ego-less clarity of observation, that remains incredibly pleasurable and inspiring. How I wish that there was more to come.