In the autumn of 2020 Simon Barnes should have been in Zambia, but Covid restrictions put his plans on hold. Instead, he embarked on a voyage of discovery from a folding chair at the bottom of his garden. His itinerary: to sit in the very same spot every day for a year and to see – and hear – what happened around him. It would be a stationary garden safari, watching as the world changed day by day. Simon’s year of sitting dangerously had begun.
Over the next twelve months, he began to see his surroundings in a new way; by restricting himself, he opened up new horizons, growing even closer to a world he thought he already knew so well. The Year of Sitting Dangerously is a wonderfully evocative read. In it, Simon Barnes inspires the reader to pay closer attention to the marvels of nature and reveals the joys to be discovered on your doorstep.
Extract from ‘Sunday 27 September’, The Year of Sitting Dangerously
It was raining on this, the first day, and that was somehow important. It was like taking my seat at La Scala, except that opera-goers seldom have to tip half a pint of icy water from their seats before sitting down. It was like taking a pew in Norwich Cathedral below an incalculably lofty ceiling: the vast Norfolk sky vaulted with clouds. Or perhaps it was like entering a Zen meditation hall, to sit still and share the air with willows and alders and sallows.
I could feel the coldness though not the wetness of the water through my waterproof trousers. I could hear the quacking of mallards. Along the line of the river was a line of black-headed gulls. The sky looked like an Old grey woolly. Was I here to explore nature? Or my own nature? Even as I posed this question I could feel the foreshadowing of an answer. It took the form of another question.
You mean there’s a difference?
Just beyond the river I could make out the silhouette of a marsh harrier, balancing like a tightrope walker on the big wet wind. The year of sitting dangerously had started. The bottomless sit had begun.