Jini Reddy

Jini Reddy is a writer and journalist, and is the author of Wanderland which was shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Award for Travel Book of the Year, and for the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing. She’s also contributed to the landmark anthology Women on Nature, and before that, Winter. As a journalist and travel writer, Jini has written for publications including The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, the Independent, TIME magazine, National Geographic Traveller, Resurgence and the Ecologist, and in 2019 was named one of National Geographic’s Women of Impact.Jini has also written several texts for Where the Leaves Fall - her writing occupying a cross-genre space where place, spirituality, nature and culture meet.

Describe the nature around you at this moment?

I’m in a cafe in Wimbledon, so only human nature I’m afraid, but the sun is streaming in. There is a beautiful woods at the end of my street and I often walk there.

How would you describe your nature connection?

Currently my connection to nature feels joyful, relaxed, meaningful and a vital part of my life.

Where do you feel most at ease?

I’m happiest by the coast or walking in a wild place or in a beautiful park. When it comes to nature, I shy away from crowds. I don’t like walking in groups. I need peace and quiet. I prefer to be alone or with one other at most.

What experience in nature revealed the most to you?

Probably the time I spent alone, fasting and wild camping in the Pyrenees over four nights. The experience taught me that it does not take long for the veil that separates us from the nature ‘out there’ to drop. I began to feel quite feral after a couple of days and my ability to listen, to intuit and to sense was sharpened. And in an everyday way, observing the cycles of life and death in nature reminds me that change is a part of life and that resistance is futile.

Is there anything you’re curious about right now?

There are places I’ve not visited, landscapes I’ve not experienced yet, that I’m wildly curious about. I’m curious about the afterlife. I often wonder what it must feel to experience the world as a painter does. I’m always curious about magic and mystery – how to invite more of it into my life.

What’s your top tip?

Be a good listener. That applies to any situation anywhere, whether you’re in the company of others, or alone.

What kind of ancestor do you want to be?

I think you’re asking how can I leave the world a better place? I’d say by living creatively and conscientiously and with kindness to all living creatures.

What inspires you every day?

I’m inspired by the strength and courage of refugees and asylum seekers, people displaced through no fault of their own.

What are you reading, watching or listening to?

I recently read Soundings by Doreen Cunningham, about a British single mum with a toddler in tow who heads off to follow grey whales on their migration route. Ten years earlier she went to Alaska and lived with an Inupiaq family who are embedded in a culture of traditional subsistence whale hunting. She joined them on the hunt and found a deep sense of belonging.

Another I read and adored is Spirit Run by Mexican American Noé Alvarez, about a 6000-mile run across stolen lands. Also Black Lion: Alive in the Wilderness a memoir by South African Sicelo Mbatha. It is about the author’s deeply spiritual connection to the wild. It is deserving of a wide readership. If we’re talking eco-fiction, I enjoyed The Overstory by Richard Powers and At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison. Truly, I could talk books all day!

What question would you like to ask a future guest of #TheNatureKind?

What do you care about in life? What matters to you?

Could you suggest someone else or other organisations you admire that we could approach for #TheNatureKind series?

How about Judy Ling Wong, the UK artist and environmental activist? She always has interesting things to say! Or Sicelo Mbatha, the South Africa author and wilderness guide, mentioned above? Or Eritrean American writer Rahawa Haile – she’s got a book coming out next year called Open Country about her solo hike along the Appalachian Trail.

You can follow Jini Reddy on Instagram and Twitter.

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