Time and Tides - April, 2022
My regular almanac column for Perspective Magazine, London.
April comes with the promise of bobbing bluebell heads, dancing across the woodland floor. Rivers of violets also appear in the glens and edges, an essential food source for woodland butterflies, particularly the spectacular pearl-bordered fritillary. My favourite moment is to welcome back the swallows, with their keen twittering and aerobatic flight. Within moments of arrival from South Africa, they start to build nests to raise their families over the summer months. Their energy carries such infectious joy that winter has to surrender.
The hedgerows, woods and fields are bursting with comfrey, rampion, salad burnet, nettle, wood sorrel, hawthorn tips and watercress for our kitchens; try an omelette with a delicious sprinkling of wild green garlic. We can also dip the first tender garden asparagus in mayonnaise.
Ramadan begins with the new moon this month, and there’s the Christian holy week of Easter, once Lent is finished. The Jewish Passover/Pesach is celebrated before Easter Sunday.
April has done it again, a time to cherish the return of warmer days.
Positive Ecological News
Huanggang’s vertical forest city
China’s first “Vertical Forest City” now houses 500 people. About 5,000 shrubs and trees are growing out of the tower block, creating “a continuous, ever-changing movement”. We are re-imagining tower blocks as new green spaces like the city parks. Italian architect Stefano Boeri said: “The inhabitants… have the opportunity to experience the urban space from a different perspective, while fully enjoying the comfort of being surrounded by nature.”
China’s giant pandas no longer “endangered”
China has reported that these iconic bears, represented on the World Wildlife Fund’s logo, are no longer officially “endangered”, thanks to major conservation efforts over the last few years, but re-classified as “vulnerable”. The giant panda population has been improved mainly through expanded protected areas, which now cover about 18% of China’s land mass.
Lapland trials electric flights
Finland is testing electric planes across Lapland, where the longest internal flight distance is about 300km. “The range of an electric plane is good enough for that,” said Marko Halla, CEO of Enontekiö Airport. Sweden and Norway announced they’re also hoping to revolutionise their countries’ internal travel, with fossil-free domestic flights within a decade.
White rhinos make historic “translocation”
Thirty white rhinos travelled from South Africa to Rwanda in the “largest single rhino translocation in history,” African Parks reports. “Introductions to safe, intact, wild landscapes are vital for the future of vulnerable species… which are under considerable human-induced pressures”, explained CEO Peter Fearnhead. Listed as a “near-threatened” species by the IUCN Red List, only about 10,000 white rhino remain in the wild, partly as a result of the illegal trade in rhino horn.
The full moon on 11 April was known by Native American tribes as the “pink moon” that brings flowers. Here in the UK it is the “budding moon” or the “new shoots moon”. In the skies this month, the Lyrids meteor shower, producing 20 meteors per hour peaks on the night of 22 April. These meteors are known for creating luminous dust trails which can last for more than several seconds. Best viewing is from a dark location after midnight and look to the constellation of Lyra.
Spring 3rd – 5th
Neap 10th – 11th
Spring 18th – 20th
Neap 24th – 25th