Lit Locale: This Strange Visible Air

Freehand Books books gives us the perfect lit locale for Sharon Butala’s newly published collection of essays on women and aging, The Strange Visible Air—recommending this to be read before or after a long walk outdoors as a way to challenge the ways in which we see the natural world.


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Imagine: stepping outside your door and taking note of the slight chill of fresh air on your cheeks. Noticing where a delicate white flower has poked up through a crack in the sidewalk, and that a bird is lazily swirling overhead. Hearing the crunch of leaves underfoot. Embarking on a good long walk just to be in nature, whether that’s walking down a mountain trail or simply down the street.
For Sharon Butala, spending time walking in nature—or as she often calls it, in the landscape—is not just something nice to do, but something deeply essential. And she deliberately takes note of the natural world around her—whether on the Saskatchewan farm where she lived for thirty-three years, or walking in the neighbourhood of her Calgary condo where she lives today. In Sharon’s latest book, This Strange Visible Air, she contemplates how her life has changed as she’s grown old, and on one walk reflects:I had stopped walking, and now I started again, and slowly, floating or creeping from last year’s damp grass and the sun on the trunks of the trees, and from something hovering in the air that came from what I couldn’t say for sure, but that was nature itself, came the delicate, delicious scent of spring – even here, even in the heart of the city. By the fragrance moving through me, and with it all the springs of my life and all the ones yet to come, my fate – the same as everyone’s, after all – seemed of less consequence and much less immediacy; you might say that my fate paled and retreated with gentle steps, wafting away until it dissolved into the fresh spring air. Death will come, but not today. Today I am alive.This Strange Visible Air is the perfect book to read before or after a nice long walk—and it’s a book that will really challenge you to look for signs of the natural world around you, no matter where you might be walking. 

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Thank you to Kelsey at Freehand Books for sharing this outdoorsy lit locale recommendation for Sharon Butala’s This Strange Visible Air—now available on All Lit Up or via your local independent bookstore.