Recent Read: ‘The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2018’

Recent Read: ‘The Almanac: A seasonal Guide to 2018’ – Lia Leendertz

Tonight, the moon is in its 3rd quarter, slowly turning its face away as the calendar moves towards the dark regeneration of the New Moon, which in this month of January falls on the 17th.
I am not sure why it is so important to me that I know this, but it feels satisfying to recognise the rhythm, to know the order of things. Perhaps it is the same satisfaction that comes from naming things, or from marking passing moments; rowan, birch, ash, dawn, noon, dusk.

How I know however is simple. The same way that I know tomorrow’s sun will rise at 8.01am and set a full three minutes later than it does today.

In the weeks before Christmas I acquired a copy of a recently published book: ‘The Almanac – A Seasonal Guide to 2018’ written by Lia Leendertz, an award winning gardener and food writer with illustrations by Bristol based illustrator Emma Dibben.

The idea of an almanac is not new, seasonal guides were once an invaluable aid to gardeners, farmers and other folk, providing weather forecasts, calendars and reminders of year-markers and celebrations. It is refreshing to discover the tradition revived in an accessible and engaging form.

A small book, it’s proportions disguise the volume of interesting snippets and facts that are filtered into its pages. I have been carrying the book in my handbag this week, whilst musing on what to write in this review. In the spirit of approaching a slower approach, and appreciating the year as it falls, I have taken the decision to read only the current month, moving onto the next chapter as the calendar does likewise. However, I couldn’t resist looking to see what Lia has written for June (my birthday month), of course, and I have to admit to giving into temptation and fast forwarding to the joys of spring as an antidote to the dreariness of this week’s weather. And I bought the book in December so I had to read the month too, and November, to give myself a hint as to what gardening tasks and nature events I might have missed.

The book could be read as a whole, but I feel it lends itself best to dipping in and out of, a few minutes here and there to read a section or two. And I must mention Emma Dibben’s illustrations which are a total delight.

It is reassuring to see recorded there in black ink, the increments by which the days will lengthen over the next few weeks, and to be reminded that come February we can look for the golden lights of winter aconites, and white flecks of snowdrops. In the modern time when a fulfilling connection seems hard to find, and we often feel totally out of sync with the rhythms of the world that made us and nourishes us, any tool that provides that much needed moment of grounding, more than earns its place on my coffee table. Just need to pick up a local a tide-times guide next time you pop down to the coast, as the perfect companion for a complete picture of the year.

‘The Almanac’ carries a cover price of £9.99: I picked up my copy at hive.co.uk, an online bookseller that supports local independent bookstores, but it is also available at many other book retailers.

I would like to add a final note on the publishing of this book, which is a little unusual, and worth a mention in its own right. ‘The Almanac’ is published by Unbound, a company founded by three writers. Unbound operates as a platform where authors can pitch their book writing ideas, and generate the support and funding required, directly from readers. On the last few pages of “The Almanac” you will find a long list of subscribers that helped make the publishing of the book possible. Like almanacs, this subscriber – author relationship is not new, but a tradition well worth reviving. Visit Unbound.com for more info.

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