What a thrill to discover my annual Christmas Gift Book from C, in my postbox! No matter that the book finally staggered in during the last week of February, despite being mailed from the UK in mid-December 2021. It arrived, so lets not moan about our dreadful postal system. I refuse to call it ‘our Postal service’ because service it ain’t.
Anyhoo. My dear friend C, now one of my oldest friends in terms of friendship-years, generously sends me a book every Christmas. Such a treat! Because this means that I can read books which are published in the UK, but not sold in this country, and unavailable on line. As you may imagine, I trawl through my Books Wish List, in search of that one, perfect book. And I always come up with at least one title. That’s half the fun.
The remaining fun-half is finally receiving the parcel, ripping off the wrapping, and admiring the book in all its shiny, new, glory. A brand new, hard-covered book is a rare treat in these days of trade paperbacks and Print-on-Demand cheapies.
I’m a fan of Lev Parikian. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense I know, given that he’s a British nature writer, writing about bird watching and the British countryside but I enjoy his book precisely because they’re about nature in the Northern Hemisphere and such a contrast to my arid, hot, wind-swept environment. .
The book arrived towards the end of February, and happily, that’s where the dated chapters begin 4-8th February …. which makes it a wonderful book to read, in dated segments during the year, as the days, weeks and months slide by .
What makes this particular book so attractive to me is that its based on the Japanese calendar system of 72 seasons, split (mostly) into 5 day sections. paying particular attention to seasonal natural events.
.The micro-seasons referred to were established in 1874, and are based on the solstices, the seasons, and cyclical events in nature. Each section has a heading, some jocular like “Starling Hullabaloo: 15-20 May”; some are poetic “Bracken turns to Bronze 7-11 November” ; while some some are vaguely menacing “Bats Sometimes Swarm 13-17 September”; and some sound like the evening weather report: ” Grey Skies are Unremitting 12-16 December.”
Directly below the tantalizing headings are the original haiku, in translation. For example, the Haiku for 12-16 December reads … Greater snow/Bears start hibernating in their dens . The Haiku are poetic miniatures – and perfect.
What a wonderful start to the day, sipping my morning coffee, and enjoying page or two of Lev Parikian’s gentle nature stories.
Thank you once again, dear friend.