a year in the woods

A Year in the Woods is the story of Norwegian writer Torbjørn Ekelund who spent a whole year taking a little time away each month, to spend alone in the woods. He communes with nature in quiet reflection, leaving the city after work one day each month to camp near the same tiny pond in a forest, then returns to work the next day. Being alone is something that many people used to do a lot anyway. Getting away from the ratrace does not have to mean becoming a hermit, but being a hermit for just a little while is good! The ritual is far from rigorous and never perfect. One evening, Ekelund grows so cold in his tent, that he hikes out before daybreak (it’s Norway!)

But as Torbjørn greets the same trees and boulders each month, he begins to appreciate the sameness alongside their quiet beauty. He wonders how long they have stood silently in this place, and reflects on his own short existence among them. The book asks us to reconsider our relationship with nature. Are we anxious wanderers or mindful observers? Do we honour the seasons, or let them pass by? The perfect book for anyone who longs to connect with nature, but is realistic about time.

Also read Torbjørn’s other book In Praise of Paths. This tells the story of how he took up hiking, when an epileptic fit prevented him from driving. He began to venture more into nature, and walks with shoes and Torbjørn Ekelund started to walk everywhere, and the more he ventured out into nature, and walks through forest creeks and across urban streets. Contemplating the early tracks made by ancient snails and traces the wanderings of Romantic poets, amongst other musings. He asks ‘What do we lose in an era of car travel and navigation apps? And what will we gain from taking to paths once again?’

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