Get buzzing about this delectable read. Image from Wikipedia.
In 2003 entomologist and author Dave Goulson purchased a dilapidated farmhouse and adjacent meadow in the French countryside called Chez Nauche. In A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm, his delightfully sunny and fascinating follow-up to A Sting in the Tale, he takes inquisitive travelers and science enthusiasts alike on a tour through his meadow and rural French home — from the dirt up.
This speedy read is a perfect companion for this month’s #Wanderfulreads book club pick, Julia Child’s My Life in France. As your mind gets to buzzing about warm summer days, A Buzz in the Meadow serves to highlight the wacky and wonderful ways in which our world goes ’round and reminds us to stop and smell the lavender.
Buzzing for those Vermont berries. Photo courtesy of Paige Trubatch.
Shall We Go for a Walk?
A Buzz in the Meadow opens with “a stroll through the meadow,” and Goulson does a wonderful job of transporting his audience (in my case, a sleepy commuter on her way to work) into his world of endless wonder and scientific curiosity in his little corner of rural France. He writes, “We’ll start at the top of the drive, to the north of the house, by the big horse-chestnut tree. It is late afternoon, towards the end of May, and the tree is in full bloom, the cones of frothy cream flowers attracting scores of bumblebees, whose bustling dislodges petals from the older flowers that rain down upon the drive.” Lovely indeed, and just where I want to be.
Part of the appeal of A Buzz in the Meadow is that it isn’t heavy-handed with travel-writing tropes or cliches and, in fact, isn’t necessarily travel writing at all. I must admit, I’ve grown weary of the usual style of travel memoir that I used to devour. Perhaps it’s just a lull in my interest, but I was so thrilled to find a nice balance between topical interest (bugs!) and well-written background scenery featuring a new locale for my mind to explore. Over the course of a week, I happily daydreamed that I was strolling through Goulson’s fragrant, buzzing meadow with his student researchers from my seat on the train every morning and afternoon.
Oh, hello! I didn’t see you there…you get my good side? Photo ourtesy of Paige Trubatch.
A Buzz in the Meadow is an easy-to-read account of one of nature lover’s personal quirks and professional quest to study the lives of those creatures who shape so much of life on Earth, hidden in plain sight. It’s definitely a unique perspective, and applicable to travelers worldwide as we move through new places in possibly different ecosystems. It is also a plea to not forget this bustling world that goes on above and below us, for without the billions of tiny insects and buzzing pollinators, our own world would be forever drastically changed.
Upon finishing A Buzz in the Meadow, I remembered how much there is to explore right in our own backyards. Whether you’re traveling to a new country or venturing a bit further out of your geographical home, there are some pretty wonderful opportunities to see your destination from the point-of-view of the critters who live there alongside us humans. You just need the open eyes and ears (and sometimes nose!) to follow the trail towards some truly amazing and oft-overlooked natural wonders.
Identifying local dragonflies on an organized Bug Hike last summer. Photo courtesy of Paige Trubatch.