I just finished reading “Life Between the Tides” by Adam Nicolson, about the cold coast of Scotland and its natural life. Finding and reading something you pick up with total serendipity is really fun if you are blessed for it to be a good read. In this case it was really good – not flawless, but really good. The writer and his artist friend document, talk about, draw and photograph life in the contexts of 3 different artificial tidal pools he creates between the period right before to just after the pandemic. Each one is a little more ambitious in size and also has a variation in location. The last one is very nearly a pool nearly enmeshed with the actual ocean itself, while the first is the size of a laundry basket and seems to be just brushing the ocean.
He conveys the wonder of naturalism at its best and touches on that fascination with getting a tour and view into alien lives that none-the-less have logic and patterns to them that have an evident ‘sense’. We meet cloning and dueling anemones, Queen shrimp, and hierarchies of sea weed along the way. I could spend (and did) a long time reading and wondering at any kind of nature. In that sense I guess it wasn’t totally serendipitous to have picked it up.
The ‘twist’ added by the book is how it mixes in various aspects of human life that have some parallel with the particular topic from nature touched on by different chapters. Thus, he weaves in medieval local Scottish history in with a chapter that is engaged with an island that is just submerged most of the time. He brings up philosophy and philosophers along the way, offering a defense of some(Heraclitus) who are apparently of of fashion and ones I’d never heard of (Iris Murdoch) but who fascinated me. I thought at times he tried too hard to see a relationship between what he saw in nature and where his mind went in human affairs, but didn’t deter from the overall pleasantness of the read.