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The strongest light

The summer months are a riot of buzzing wings, when meadow brown and ringlet butterflies flutter over flowers, and dragonflies and damselflies glimmer over lonely stretches of water. These invertebrates carry essential functions in our ecosystem and there are excellent information guides online if you want to learn how to distinguish your fritillaries.

This is also the season of the rose and wherever you look their petals will be unfurling over walls and across garden borders. The rose is a fantastic flower whose fruits, flowers, leaves and bark are used in cosmetics, food and pharmaceuticals, containing many medicinal benefits.

Summer’s main event is Midsummer’s Day, which because of the strength of the Sun was perceived as the time when medicinal herbs were at their most powerful. The dew over a wildflower meadow was particularly valued and bits of linen cloth were often draped over dew-filled grasses on Midsummer morning so the medicinal moisture could be gathered and bottled to be used as a skin tonic for the rest of the year.

St John’s Day (24 June) is the date we celebrate the longest day, giving rise to the saying: “If the cuckoo sings after St John, the harvest will be late.” The cuckoo was the bringer of springtime so the belief was that the later it sang, the later harvest season would begin.

The hedgerows are now filled with colour and you can enjoy working in the garden followed by a balmy evening listening to blackbirds singing, while moths are chased by swooping bats. If you do have a touch of travel fever, consider going far north for wildlife experiences: head to the Orkneys, Shetlands and Hebrides. There, the Sun never sets and you will meet a diversity of landscapes across the islands. From high moorland to looming sea cliffs, these northern parts of the UK offer a haven for a rich diversity of birdlife, mammals and sea life.

This is a time when we can spoil ourselves and decorate our tables with roses and lavender. Why not add a touch of colourful ribbons along with the obligatory large bowl of strawberries and cream? Seize the day: the light is now at its strongest.

This is a time when we can spoil ourselves and decorate our tables with roses and lavender

Positive Ecological Restoration Stories

India’s solar success
Installing simple rooftop solar connection in India has always been an uphill battle, entailing heavy expenses for people. Today, the Indian government has transformed their admin policies and added a package worth £8.3bn as an investment to power local homes through solar panels. This fast adoption of technology is critical for India to reach its clean-energy goals. The removal of all administrative obstacles has made it easier for people to adopt solar technology, “We had to get 45 signatures to set up a small rooftop solar connection in 2021,” said Shreya Mishra, CEO of Mumbai-based SolarSquare. “Today it’s almost instantaneous.”

Winds of Change
Often referred to as the Godfathers of Wind, Denmark’s Henrik Stiesdal and Britain’s Andrew Garrad have been quietly working to improve wind power for 50 years. Their achievement in helping wind power surpass fossil fuels in the UK’s power grid was recognised when they shared the prestigious £500k Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, known as the industry’s Nobel. Lord Browne of Madingley, chair of the award, said: “I remember even fifteen years ago people said –‘wind power, windmills – a ridiculous idea – they won’t work for the long term’ – and actually there were plenty of very distinguished engineers who were very negative about wind power. But it’s been a remarkable journey, all thanks to these two evangelists who made change happen.”

Restoring soil health
Governments are now required to monitor the ecological status of soil. The European Parliament’s environment committee has been working to create mandatory remedial measures to restore two-thirds of degraded soils. National governments will have to draw up precise plans for soil restoration within the EU. “We are finally close to achieving a common European framework to protect our soils from degradation,” said Martin Hojsik, who steered the proposal. “Farmers’ livelihoods and food on our table depend on this non-renewable resource.”

Nature Restoration Law
A conservative drive to push down the Nature Restoration Law failed when it received 329 votes in favour, 275 against, in the European Parliament. The measure aims at restoring at least 20 per cent of European land and sea areas by 2030 and all degraded ecosystems by 2050. The main targets will be to restore farmlands, pollinators, rivers, forests and urban areas, in order to reverse the damage caused by unchecked human activity. “It is a victory for the many environmental organisations and businesses that have been fighting for the Nature Restoration Law for months. We are relieved that MEPs listened to facts and science, and did not give in to populism and fearmongering,” said WWF EU, BirdLife Europe, the European Environment Bureau (EEB) and ClientEarth, in a joint statement.

Sky Events

The summer solstice occurs at 20:46 UTC on 20 June. This indicates that the North Pole of the Earth is tilted toward the Sun. Directly over us is the Tropic of Cancer with 23.44 degrees north latitude. The day marks the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere. Mars will be visible in the eastern skies at 3am. The full moon on 22 June has been known as the Rose Moon, Flower Moon and the Honey Moon.  28 and 29 July bring the Delta Aquarids meteor shower, producing up to twenty meteors per hour and  peaking this year on 28 July. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius. The full moon in July was traditionally known as the Hay Moon, Wyrt Moon or Mead Moon.

June and July Tides

Spring
7–9 and 23–25 June
6–8 and 22–24 July

Neap
14–16 and 28–30 June
14–16 and 29–31 July

Andreas Kornevall is a Swedish storyteller, author and ecologist. He is the Director of Operations for the Earth Restoration Service Charity based in the UK

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Almanac, June / July 2024, Life

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