‘I stare into the void encountered at the edge of a cliff. At first I am overtaken by a sinking sensation and then by the horrifying, irrational urge to jump’
from Tara Kramer in Lost in light.
Waymaking is a beautifully anthology of short stories, poetry, diary excerpts and art work which draws you into landscapes. Some are familiar,like the Lake District or the Peak District, and others are not, like Tara’s depiction of the cold of working and being immersed in the flat white of Antarctica. You can lose yourself in the writing.
The writing absorbs you into the various landscapes and leaves you there, feeling the beauty of the space.
‘Grisedale’s waters are crystal clear. I push out and swam, bracing against the cold…I had a sudden, terrifying sense of an unfashionable void below.’
From Taking the Plunge by Anna Fleming.
Gender of course is something that cuts through this book, and how can it not as a book by women.
There is ‘Straggle’ by Allison Williams, which discusses how females feel they have to overcome gender to climb mountains and see it as a sign of weakness to be less strong or fit. In contrast there is ‘Oh’ by Paula Flach which discusses how gender is irrelevant in the outdoors and perhaps we all pay too much attention to it.
My favourite is ‘Memory Ten’ by Libby Peter and her story of raising her daughter and teaching her to winter climb, considered an essential education.
The writing is feminine, no machismo, or tales of great deeds and terrors. Even ‘Falling’ by Joanna Croston is beautiful poem, tackling the moment of falling on a mountain peak and the trust of another individual to save you.
Here I was
My axe glancing
Again and again
The pick failing to bite
The smooth cold of
A glass mirror….’
But gender isn’t really at the heart of the book, as the stories absorb you into landscapes and feed you adventures, of swimming, climbing, walking and just being in the landscapes. The stories take you around the UK, Europe, Asia and America.
Throughout the book there is beautiful artwork, of mountains, waterscapes and images if women in these spaces, all accompanied by short descriptions or tales. My favourite is Deziree Wilson’s ‘Mad Hatters Gully In Winter’ – the angle and imagery of ice climbing makes the climber look fearless.
Waymaking is a beautiful book that excited me to receive and in which I lost myself to the stories.