Have you ever wanted to step away from your life for a few months, shun society and responsibility, to live in the forest with brief contact with other people? This month’s Reader’s Den will encourage you to try an exploratory journey to Siberia with Sylvan Tesson as he lives alone for six months in a cabin taking in the beauty of winter and the arrival of spring in The Consolations of the Forest. Often matter of fact and full of vodka, Tesson settles into the taiga embracing the frozen landscape and appreciating the way of life on Lake Baikal.
Tesson’s cabin is located at North Cedar Cape “in the northern sector of the Baikal-Lena Nature Preserve” on the oldest and deepest lake in the world. The lake holds one fifth of the planet’s fresh water and the entire area surrounding the lake is a national park. He arrives there by truck, driven over the ice. He walks for miles across the frozen lake to visit (and drink with) his closest neighbors and makes soulful climbs into the coniferous forest to take in the solitude.
This journal is a day to day reflection on the facts, “This morning: 27° F. First springlike day. The titmice are flocking beneath the southern window,” ( p. 94) as well as a contemplation of the world at large, “I catch my first fish at five o’clock, a second one three minutes later, and a third an hour and a half after that. Three quicksilver char, electric with fury, gleam on the ice. The skin is shot through with quivers of energy. I kill them and look out at the plain, murmuring words of thanks Siberians once addressed to the animal they had destroyed or the world they had just made a little poorer. In modern society, the carbon tax has replaced this ‘Thank you, I’m sorry.’” (p. 96)
NASA Earth Observatory image of Ice Melting on Lake Baikal And, this February is the perfect time to be thinking of Russia in winter with the Olympics happening in Sochi. Please join the Reader’s Den in reading The Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson (translated by Lynda Coverdale) and let us know what you think by commenting below or on upcoming posts. Happy Reading!