Book Reviews

Light Rains Sometimes Fall: A British Year in Japan’s 72 Ancient Seasons by Lev Parikian

What Da Cover Says: See the British year afresh and experience a new way of connecting with nature – through the prism of Japan’s seventy-two ancient micro seasons.

Across seventy-two short chapters and twelve months, writer and nature lover Lev Parikian charts the changes that each of these ancient microseasons (of a just a few days each) bring to his local patch – garden, streets, park and wild cemetery.

From the birth of spring ( risshun ) in early February to ‘the greater cold’ ( daikan ) in late January, Lev draws our eye to the exquisite beauty of the outside world, day-to-day.

Instead of Japan’s lotus blossom, praying mantis and bear, he watches bramble, woodlouse and urban fox; hawthorn, dragonfly and peregrine. But the seasonal rhythms – and the power of nature to reflect and enhance our mood – remain.

By turns reflective, witty and joyous, this is both a nature diary and a revelation of the beauty of the small and subtle changes of the everyday, allowing us to ‘look, look again, look better’.

What I Says: The idea of 72 micro seasons really appeals to me, who doesn’t take a moment to notice when a season changes, there is always spotting the first blossom on a tree or noticing when that tree turns red, seemingly over night, imagine having 72 seasons…that is 72 times a year you can stop what you are doing and have a look to see what nature is up to (of course it does mean you get distracted from those YouTube videos 72 times in a year).

Like all of us in 2020 Lev was faced with a lockdown, not able to travel and see nature in all it’s glory he decides to explore the area around his house and taking inspiration from Japanese idea of 72 seasons he constructs his own versions. The seasons are 5 to 6 days each and Lev restricts each chapter/season to 5 or 6 pages…each, once he had that all sorted it was time for nature to step up and do it’s part. One of the things I love about Lev’s writing is his ability to make the reader see or hear things in a different way, after reading Into the Tangled Bank I was straight outside looking for bugs in the hedges, this time he tells us to sit down and listen so that’s what I did. 6pm in my back garden, Basingstoke, this is what I heard over 1minute:

Cars on the ring road

A drill echoing off the houses

My dog chewing his foot

A magpie shouting at me that the bird table was out of meal worms

A really cool guy on his motorbike on the ring road going very fast and loud

A mum shouting to her kid “Shut the F*** up or I’ll F****** give you a slap”

Aaaah the joys of living in a housing estate.

I could have walked further afield and heard some much better sounds but this is what I hear most of the time when out reading in my garden so I thought I’d share. I would love to be able to identify birds from sight or sound as well as Lev does, he puts himself down a lot but he is still very quick to identify, I can identify the bird by sight if it stays still long enough, my failing is identifying their song, blooming useless.

Lev’s writing is impeccable as always, he has a wicked sense of humour and this book is full of it, yes it is a nature book but it is so easy to read, instead of poetically describing a bird’s mating call that could bore many he tells us that the bird is gagging for it and that works for me, you can instantly picture the little bird singing for all its worth. Now you should be warned there are a few swear words in these pages and I think that is perfectly acceptable, you ever seen a blue tit sitting on a branch and singing whilst looking right at you? I have and I’m fairly certain it was being rather abusive towards me. There are loads of interesting info here too, I never knew about the dark side of woodpeckers and there are some crazy facts about butterflies.

This has been a joy to read, I’ve laughed loads and have been inspired yet again, if you’ve never read anything by this chap then you are missing out so get yourself a copy of all his books.

Thanks to Elliot & Thompson for sending me this copy to review. If you want a copy you can get it from this A****n free site.

2 thoughts on “Light Rains Sometimes Fall: A British Year in Japan’s 72 Ancient Seasons by Lev Parikian

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