James Rebanks describes a nuannaarpoq moment with his daughter, watching a white owl hunt.  And he wishes her all a loving parent could wish a child along with the hope that this magical moment will live on in her memory.    

I hope Bea lives for a hundred more years.  I hope she lives a healthy life full of kindness and joy. And maybe when she is an old woman, wherever in the world that might be, she will remember this spot in time when she sat with her father and watched a white owl hunt.  A tiny moment of beauty and magic shared.  Or, maybe, she will stand in this same place as a farmer, long after I am gone, and remember that I tried my best to look after this land. 

Rebanks’ English Pastoral is a slim and quietly impassioned account of his family’s involvement in the transformation of farming from its age-old practice to a full on globalised industry with a number of doubtful outcomes, followed by an endeavour to move forward (not backward) to a more sustainable approach to farming.  It’s a succinct overview of the complexities of making that transition.  See our tribute to Rebanks’ earlier book, which touches on similar issues, A Shepherd’s Life. 

Source: James Rebanks, English Pastoral: An inheritance (London: Penguin, 2021), p. 277

Photo credit: Todd Steitle at unsplash


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