The Karst Country

Some of you reading Notes from Near and Far may remember that Julia and I have been working in the hills high above the Prespa Lakes monitoring birds as part of an environmental assessment for a proposed wind farm. It is there that I had the good fortune to meet Stavros, an Albanian shepherd who plays the flute as he wanders the limestone hills with his herd. I revisited that unique place and landscape in a longer piece of writing which I’m delighted and honoured to have had published online at A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments.

Since 1998, Terrain has published a themed issue twice a year that explores the world around us through words, images and sound. Taking up such themes as The River’s Turn, The Suburban Frontier, Community Sustained and Islands and Archipelagos, the journal strives to uncover the “soul of a place.” It is a “celebration of the symbiosis between the built and natural environments where it exists and an examination and discourse where it does not.”

My piece can be found on the home page at or through its permanent link at ‘Time in the Karst Country.’ The essay comes with a series of photographs detailing something of the extraordinary place that I was able to spend so much time in and an audio recording of me reading the piece (including a few clicks from the wood stove roaring away in the background!). Comments are encouraged across the site so feel free to add any thoughts or ideas at the end of any contribution, including my own. There’s some wonderful work throughout the issue so please take some time and explore some of the fascinating relationships to place that exist in the world. Many thanks!

“The soul is a region without definite boundaries:
it is not certain a prairie
can exhaust it
or a range enclose it:”

– from “Terrain” by A.R. Ammons

12 thoughts on “The Karst Country

  1. Congratulations, Julian. I imagine Terrain was as pleased to have it as you are to have this excellent article published. I will note this to spend some time on the site as soon as I get a chance. Thanks for letting us know about what sounds like a very worthwhile project.

    1. So glad you liked it, and wonderful to hear from you! As soon as you mentioned a video I realised how the image does look like one! We have a few more visits to the hills to make in the next couple of months, so if I happen to see Stavros again I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for taking the time to read.

  2. Your work looks great on Terrain, Julian, a fitting home for your story about this remarkable place. Your writing and photographs are rich with description and meaning, and one of my favourite photographs of yours is there (the butterfly). Thanks for sharing this with us! I look forward to exploring the site further.

    1. Thanks so much, Cait! It really is a lovely journal to be involved with, and one that takes a great deal of care in presenting a piece to its best possible advantage. Thanks for the kind words as always.
      Best wishes,

  3. A hearty congratulations on your publication, Julian. As with giving birth to a child, getting a piece of writing published should be savoured, as it is a long and arduous task. The way that you weave back and forth between the land as is, through your observations of the birds and people and landscape, and the land as it was, in both the near and distant past, is truly magical. Thanks for bringing Karst country to life at so many different levels.

    1. Thanks very much, Paul! That task is indeed “long and arduous” and I have come to savour the process itself for its peaks and valleys and sudden views. Having the piece published in such a terrific journal adds a wonderful touch to the journey, as is reading your very generous compliments. I’m delighted that you found so much that spoke to you within it, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to explore such a remarkable place so intimately over time. Thanks for taking the time to read and for your much appreciated comment.
      Best wishes,

    1. Thank you for taking the time to listen, Lisa! One of the nice aspects of modern technology (along with being in touch with terrific bloggers around the world!) is the ability for journals like to use sound recordings. It was a great experience recording the essay so I’m extremely pleased that you enjoyed listening to it. And thanks for the very kind words, as always, on the words and images.
      Best wishes,

  4. I’m just going to repeat what I wrote over at Terrain…

    An excellent article, Julian – you are an extraordinary nature writer, lyrically expressing the strong connections found between nature, spirit and science, while describing your experiences and perceptions in a very special place. I came away with a strong sense of the intimacy you have with the land, water, flora and fauna in the karst country. And it was such a pleasure to hear your voice and to be read to! Beautiful work!

    1. Barbara, I’m honoured by your beautiful words. I’m so pleased that the essay reached you in such a way; it makes the work worthwhile beyond my own relationship with it. I’d like to say a heartfelt thanks for taking the time to read it and also for placing a comment so that the terrific editors at get a sense that their vision of the journal is reaching others as well. And I’m delighted that you liked the reading! The response has got me interested in perhaps even adding occasional audio links to the blog as well. We’ll see!

      Best wishes and I hope spring is near at hand for you,

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