Light Rains Sometimes Fall – A British Year Through Japan’s 72 Seasons by Lev Parikian
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
This is a beautiful book; an intimate nature diary that takes much more of a detailed look than perhaps the cursory glance that many of us will pay to our local surroundings each day.
Splitting the year into the same time periods as Japan’s 72 seasons – 4 to 5 days at a time – and writing detailed observations during a time when we were all getting through pandemic restrictions, lockdowns etc. I did wonder whether I needed to read another book written during lockdown as there have been quite a few but I am glad that I did in this instance.
The authors keen eye and attention to detail make for a fascinating discourse on his local “patch”, I admire the focussed local knowledge and the chance to wonder at it and draw in the reader to the same space, but one which they have likely never been. This is much more than a simple record, it’s not the “first swift/swallow or daffodil” recordings that many of us make or see others persistently recording. This is written with a depth of feeling and innate curiosity that each one of those things becomes an exposition.
Whether you read this books as I did, from it’s beginning to end or pick it up at the relevant date when you start it is a wealth of fascination in the natural world, written by an observer with an intense passion for the natural world around him.
From The Publisher
ln the West we consider the passing of the year through the prism of four seasons. When Lev Parikian set out to write a nature diary, he turned instead to the structure offered by the traditional Japanese calendar which recognises the subtle changes of the natural world with a total of seventy-two ancient micro-seasons (ko).
From the birth of Spring (risshun) in early February to ‘the greater cold’ (daikon) in late January, Lev draws our eye to the exquisite beauty (and sometimes mundanity) of the day-to-day across a whole year. Mirroring the Haiku-like names of the Japanese micro-seasons, which reflect nature’s gradual progression, he guides us through his year in charming short chapters such as ‘Great tits scout for nesting sites’, ‘Lavender assumes massive proportions’, ‘Spiders appear in sheds’ and ‘Christmas trees are released into the wild’. For Japan’s lotus blossom, praying mantis and bear, he offers the bramble, wood louse and urban fox.
Fans of Lev’s writing praise the warmth, wit and lightness of touch that he brings to his observations of the natural world. By turns reflective, joyous and melancholy, this wonderful journal demonstrates how much there is to gain by ‘looking, looking again and looking better’ at nature’s gradual progression.
‘l know that without all this – the focus on small things, the conscious paying attention, the birds and the flowers and the trees and the bees and the dragonflies and spiders and fungi and the mosses and lichens und the weeds growing in the cracks on the pavements, and yes, even the bastard squirrels – my year would have been substantially less bearableLev Parikian
About The Author
Lev Parikian is a birdwatcher, conductor and author of Into The Tangled Bank (2020) and Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear (2018). He lives in West Norwood, London with his family, who are getting used to his increasing enthusiasm for nature. As a birdwatcher, his most prized sightings are a golden oriaol in the Alpujurras and a black redstart at Dungeness Power Station.
Light Rains Sometimes Fall – A British Year Through Japan’s 72 Seasons by Lev Parikian is published by Elliott & Thompson and available from 16th September 2021
[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]