Middlewood Journal

Helen Scott Correll’s book ‘Middlewood Journal’ may just be one of my favourite books ever. A record of a year of walks with her dog Daisy, it is one of those books to taste in small doses, so as not to miss any of its wonders.

From the cover picture, of which my above rendition is but a poor inferior, through each fine-lined and water-coloured page, I am taken to the landscape of South Carolina almost as if I had been there in person.

Some of the plants and animals are familiar to my corner of the world but many are new to me, and in her words and patience they all come alive. Helen has an eye for the often unnoticed. She focuses less on the showy and grand and more on the small, the wild and the delicate.

Even the journal page titles such as ‘Lichen & Jelly Fungus’, ‘Sun Bleached Deer Bones’, ‘Things Growing on a Mossy Bank’, or ‘Yucca Filamentosa’ entice me to want to know more.

Here is a sample of an entry for August the 18th…

‘High-pitched field crickets trilled, and cicadas buzzed in trees still dripping from the night’s rain. Invisible spider webs were strung across the path. I managed to get some of the sticky strands across my face and in my hair. Even though I brushed and wiped and rubbed my face and shoulders, it didn’t feel as if the webs were truly gone. I imagined a spider on my back, on my neck, in my hair.’

…’At the river’s edge I found these delicate white wood asters just beginning to bloom. There were itty-bitty white mushrooms all through the woods! The more I looked, the more I saw—up the hill, down the bank, thousands of tiny, bright mushrooms spread across the dark forest floor, like the Milky Way against the night sky.’

Helen keeps a blog, also called Middlewood Journal, should you care to explore more of her work. I thoroughly recommend that you do. She doesn’t post often, but she holds journaling workshops if you are fortunate enough to live nearby.

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