4.5 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
All of my life I have known four seasons spring, summer, autumn and winter. as the world turns on each of the solstices and equinoxes each season brings certain delights. Over my life, these have been In recent years with the coming catastrophe that is climate change, it feels like we have been reduced to two seasons: warm wet winters and cool wet summers. Unseasonal weather throughs people too; another effect of climate change, wearing a T-shirt in November on a hot day or suffering the inclement weather as the summer holidays start is becoming more and more common.
It wasn’t until I saw this book that it had even crossed my mind that there would be more than four seasons, but different parts of the world actually have different seasons that we do here in the Northern hemisphere. Japan though is unique in having 72 seasons. They are called micro seasons and they only last four or five days each. The system is, as you would expect from the Japanese, incredibly detailed and deeply rooted in their culture. For example, the micro season of Pure and Clear is between the 5th and 9th of April and it is when the swallows return in the spring there.
Parikian has taken these micro seasons and sees how they fit our seasons and place on the globe. Each chapter has what the micro season is in Japanese and the translations and for each small period, he heads out onto his local streets to discover what is happening on his local patch and to make notes about it. This is during the time of lockdown so he is only allowed out for the permitted hour to see what he can see in that brief period of time.
Even that restricted time and locale gives him plenty of opportunities to spot all manner of animals, plants, lichens and especially birds. It seems by having that dramatically restricted time available has sharpened his senses to what is around. The local graveyard is a favourite spot, the absence of traffic brings extra peace to his walks there. His observations are full of wonder for even the most mundane of creatures, the joy at seeing a blue tit for the first time after having to isolate kind of sums him up. It is laced with humour, the description of a squirrel running across a branch is hilarious, but there is also a fury to his writing as he has the time to consider the perilous state of our wildlife in this country.
This is another cracker of a book by Parikian. Following on from Into the Tangled Bank, this is another book that is very much set in his locale. The plan had been to write the book set in various locations around the country, but I think that it is a richer experience because of the limits placed on him. Liked his other books, this made me laugh a lot which I am not sure natural history books are supposed to do… It is also a reminder that the natural world is all around us. You don’t need to chase after the rarities, you can have as much joy in looking at a squirrel trying to get at a bird feeder as you can listening to a hedge full of sparrows fall silent as you approach and then start up again as you pass. Very much worth reading.