Guest columns

Sunday reads~ Hints Of Life

Last summer days- a time for self-nurturing and self-cultivation

Written & edited by

Simer Dhume

red flowers in bloom

Hello September!

Red flowers in bloom | Photo by David Bartus

“September tries it’s best to have us forget summer,” Bernard Williams. The sunny month brings the last of the summer days, all to be savored. In contrast, the first day of September witnessed the remnants of Hurricane Ida, triggering the first ever ‘flash flood emergency’ in New York City. Nonetheless, the weather hassle is temporary as the storm clears just in time for the Labor day weekend.

Summer is nearly over, the past few weeks witnessed hot, muggy weather and heat-breaking thunderstorms in New York. Summer rains bring the much needed relief from the sweltering heat and also, dramatic views, as I witnessed at Boat Basin, Hudson river, New York. The dark, rain clouds approaching from the West of the Hudson, a sight wanting me to stay a bit longer albeit that meant getting drenched in the rain later.

Dark clouds signals the impending thunderstorm and heavy rain at Boat Basin, Hudson River, Manhattan, New York

In traditional Chinese medicine late Summer is considered as one of the five major seasons, as stated in the Five Element Consciousness Framework. This ancient theory of interrelationships describes how humans are influenced by many aspects of Nature. We are all energy beings. All life—human, plant, animal, and Universal—are connected in the larger picture.

“Late Summer begins around the third week of August and runs through the Fall Equinox. In August, nature undergoes its last burst of growth before harvest time. The energy of this season corresponds to the nurturing Earth element. The next few weeks are an important time for self-nurturing and self-cultivation. This is a powerful time to fully ripen and transform, using the last of summer’s bountiful energy,” says, Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation, in ‘Late Summer: The Season of Nurturing and Transformation.’

It’s time to harmonize our energies, soak in the warm sun that’ll soon be weaker and sporadic in its appearance.

Late Summer is also the best time to travel. The peak of summer is the perfect time to jettison all 9-to-5 obligations, pack your bags and head to your favorite destination. Unfortunately, COVID-19 or Delta variant has scraped travel plans for many due to the rise in cases especially among young children and uninoculated people. It’s wise to stay home or travel only if utmost necessary. However, that doesn’t stop us from experiencing our favorite destinations because all one needs is a book and a comfortable reading nook. “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home,” quotes Anna Quindlen, in How Reading Changed My Life. In these unprecedented times it holds true for many of us.

Dive into the world of words and imagination with this list of top 5 Travel and Nature books to make the most of these last of summer days.

white ceramic mug on white textile

1.Slow Adventures: Unhurriedly Exploring Britain’s Wild Places by Tor McIntosh:

The title of the book is self-explanatory. Why rush through life when you could stop, ponder and truly experience the world around you? A beautifully descriptive, eloquent and a personal journey of author Tor McIntosh- this unhurried exploration of the great outdoors encourages the readers to engage all of their senses and fully appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.

Exploring Britain’s glorious countryside, the book emphasizes on experiencing, rather than simply passing through. Slow Adventures asks us to pause for a moment and reconnect with nature. An exceptional writing by McIntosh will want you to go sea kayaking in Inverness-shire, fossil hunting in Yorkshire, willow weaving in Somerset, rock pooling in East Sussex, wild camping in Cambridgeshire, foraging in Herefordshire, and countless more memorable experiences.

A joyous read, it’ll leave you feeling calm and connected with your inner-self.

2. Bicycling With Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following The Monarch Migration by Sara Dykman 

An extraordinary story that had me glued to my reading chair for hours. Sara Dykman, an outdoor educator and field researcher made history when she took a round-trip adventure on a bicycle alongside monarch butterflies on their storied annual migration. What sets this story apart for me is Dykman’s solo journey, through three countries and more than 10,000 miles. The first person ever to achieve such a remarkable feat.

In Bicycling with Butterflies, she recounts her incredible journey and the dramatic ups and downs of the nearly nine-month odyssey. As a reader you are not just reading a story but are by her side as she navigates unmapped roads in foreign countries, checks roadside milkweed for monarch eggs, and shares her passion with eager schoolchildren, skeptical bar patrons, and unimpressed border officials. In the book, you also meet some of the ardent monarch stewards who supported her efforts, from citizen scientists and researchers to farmers and high-rise city dwellers.

Dykman offers a compelling story, validating the urgency of saving the threatened monarch migration—and the other threatened systems of nature that affect the survival of us all. Most importantly, she handles a sensitive topic with grit, humility and humor.

3. Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powels

A multifaceted book there are many reasons to read Small bodies of water.

a) It’s a lyrical, poetic essay collection that blends memoir with efficacious writing on the natural world, taking us from London to New Zealand, Shanghai to Malaysia.

b) It reflects on a girlhood spent growing up between two cultures, and explores what it means to belong.

c) This lyrical collection of interconnected essays explores the bodies of water that separate and connect us, as well as everything from migration, food, family, earthquakes and the ancient lunisolar calendar to butterflies. In powerful prose, Small Bodies of Water weaves together personal memories, dreams and nature writing.

It was pure joy and honor to read Powels distinctive new voice. It moved me as she so beautifully, delicately and intricately explores movement, migration and memory. She imbues small movements and details with poignancy and meaning. As I read the book it gave me such a longing for travel. The most remarkable aspect is that nature is not necessary to the fore but nonetheless, ever present. It is instead the medium for remembering and discovering.

Note: The book is currently available on Kindle eBook. The hard cover will be released on February 15, 2022.

4. One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith from the journals and photographs of Richard Proenneke

Are you longing to stay a few days in the wilderness? Far away from the constant flurry and hubbub of city life? This book is for you.

Imagine a pristine land unchanged by man, an idyllic site of your choice where you roam through wilderness not many humans have passed. You cook your own food and are not at odds with the world but content with one’s own thoughts and company.

A classic, memoir I thoroughly enjoyed reading. In 2018, the book celebrated the 50th anniversary of when Dick Proenneke first broke ground and made his mark in the Alaskan wilds in 1968.

Thousands have had such dreams, but Richard Proenneke lived them. He found a place, built a cabin, and stayed to become part of the country. One Man’s Wilderness is a simple account of the day-to-day explorations and activities he carried out alone, and the constant chain of nature’s events that kept him company.

A masterpiece carved out of the beyond will leave you feeling good and happy.

5. The Marches: A Borderland Journey Between England and Scotland by Rory Stewart

If you are an anglophile this book is for you. Rory Stewart in The Marches: A Borderland Journey Between England and Scotland travels with his eighty-nine-year-old father—a comical, wily, courageous, and infuriating former British intelligence officer—along the border they call home. The father-son journey through the history and landscape of the United Kingdom “a sensitive exploration of what borders mean and don’t mean”, quotes The Wall Street Journal.

In the book Stewart uncovers more about the forgotten peoples and languages of a vanished country, now crushed between England and Scotland. Stewart and his father are drawn into unsettling reflections on landscape, their parallel careers in the bygone British Empire and Iraq, and the past, present, and uncertain future of the United Kingdom.

What really drew me to the story is how gracefully the author brings human empathy to his encounters with people and landscapes. With a splendid description of Britain’s natural beauty intertwined with history, travel and reporting on local communities, The Marches: A Borderland Journey Between England and Scotland is a memorable tale. A highly recommended read.

Today, our guest writer Sugandh Swani pens a beautifully compassionate, late summer poem ‘The Aureate Pool‘ from Bir, India. Tucked away in the heart of Himachal Pradesh, India, Bir is a beautiful small town. Green mountains, snow peaks, rice fields, and tiny settlements makes for a priceless travel experience.


The best way to explore a place is to walk. Tucked away in the heart of Himachal Pradesh, India, Bir is a beautiful small town. Green mountains, snow peaks, rice fields, and tiny settlements makes for a priceless experience.

Picture credit- Ila Reddy via tripoto

The Aureate Pool

By Sugandh Swani

I walked past a field,
Where the sward was snug,
In a cozy blanket of warm sunlight,
That held it tight in a golden hug.
It twitched a little,
The glimmering tip of the grass,
For it saw me staring longer than I should,
And expected me to just stop and pass.

But I wanted some more,
To maybe just take a dip,  
In the aureate pool with ripples of breeze,
And butterflies stopping by for a sip.

So, I stepped into the gold,
And got a glimpse of paradise,
That warmed a tired traveler’s back,
For as long as time’s day lies…

And just like that, The soul felt like summer,
But autumn was all my heart,
For it shed it’s last bit of pain,
To give this life a fresh start…

Sugandh Swani is a Public Relations professional and a poet at heart. To know more about her poetic endeavors follow @sugandhswani on instagram and twitter.

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4 thoughts on “Guest columns

  1. Our Earth has warmed and cooled by itself for millions of years, the geologic record proves this. The GW thing is all about controlling populations, I don’t buy it.

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