How inspiring I find this book (and indeed the whole series) is harder to put into words. I was bought up to take an interest in the countryside (still can’t whistle with a piece of grass though, despite my dad’s attempts to teach me) but it’s not nostalgia for a more innocent time – foraging is a competitive business (I’ve spent enough time in an English village to know better than to get between a WI member and a good blackberry at jam time), and of course if you forage the wrong thing you can do yourself some real harm. It’s not the idea of the good life either – not when even the things which are good for you can bite back (yes blackberries again).
I think what really inspires me in ‘Hedgerow’ is the sense of being rooted in a culture, a history, and in the seasons. The wild things you can eat or make use of, but not abuse (on Elder “There is one novice mistake that I must warn you about. Do not pick all the flowers from a tree, then go back expecting to find some berries. You won’t. Find any that is.”) are a rich part of our shared history, passing on that knowledge a fundamental part of country culture, as is teaching respect for the very things we hope to exploit.