I know very little of birds, so reading Helen MacDonald’s Vesper Flights (like her last book, H Is For Hawk) is like entering an unknown forest and paying attention to the world. Her writing is a tour guide, and with this collection of essays, MacDonald continues to spin literary magic — bringing the reader closer to the ground and closer to air, to notice the animals and the landscape in different ways.
Vesper Flights also provides MacDonald a chance to anchor her own personal experiences, from childhood to adulthood, with her curiosities that make her writing so exquisite to read and to absorb, with beautiful prose lines in every piece.
Her overall message, although one that she does not hammer you over the head with, is how climate change and people are changing the environmental landscapes, and that animals are changing, too, either by disappearing or relocating or dying off. She writes with intent, reminding us all of our obligations as fellow passengers in this world of wonder that other living creatures are here, too, sharing this space with us.
The essays in Vesper Flights are a crash course in varieties of birds (more names than I could ever remember) but also in our shared humanity. The stories of the wild always intersect with our own, MacDonald suggests, and we best pay attention to it.
Peace (in flight),