Sorry, I meant to post this in January!
Late to rise and early to set, in November the Winter sun marked the drawing in of shorter days. Yet for all that, when he defeats the grey mists, heavy cloud or general Winter murk he is very welcome. Clear Winter skies have a blue which is, in some indefinable way, different from those of hot, drowsy Summer days. Perhaps it is less washed out by the heat reflected back from our over-crowded towns and cities. Whatever it is, it seems cleaner, fresher, and lifts the spirits in a way which is entirely wonderful.
The rising or setting sun seems larger and more colourful in Winter, which is odd, since we’re further away from it at this time of year. Nevertheless, a Winter sunset laying its ever changing colours across the Irish Sea from the Isle of Man is a new delight for me, which I don’t expect to tire of in any number of years.
For the past nine years I haven’t seen much of the Winter sun, in fact nothing at all when I was at home. My flat in town, although it was on the first floor, was in a very narrow, one-way street with three and four-storey Georgian-style houses opposite. From the middle of October to about the 19th February the Winter sun was quite unable to rise far enough to shine into any of my windows.
But now I’m up on the tops, looking down over the town and across towards St Bees Head. I can see a slice of the sea and more than half of the Isle of Man – on the days when it hasn’t floated off to some mysterious and hidden destination.
All around my bungalow are unrestricted, open skies. Windy? Oh yes, and some! Nothing to hinder it in any direction; but since the recent storms have done it no damage I’m not going to worry about that.
No, I will sit and gaze out of my window, and when the Winter sun pours its light and warmth into my room, my spirit will lift and I’ll rejoice. From now on I shall make up for those nine dark and dismal Winters in town and absorb every scrap of light the sun offers me. I’ll watch the changing hues of sky and sea, the rose, orange and purple of the sunsets – even catch a few with my camera – and be unspeakably glad.
And now, of course, the soltice is well past, and the Sun is marking out, day by day, the longed-for coming of the Spring; and no matter what storms Winter threw at me in January and February, or even will in stormy March, the sun re-assures me every morning and evening that the days are growing longer and new life will soon appear – another Spring and Summer of unique and unexpected beauties to gladden my heart.
And it is the Winter sun we must thank for bringing us to those moments, and never take it for granted, or complain when it shines in our eyes, or dazzles on the windscreen. After all there are those who never have a Winter sun, who live in darkness for half their year, and others in the tropics for whom the blazing, burning sun is unchanging month by month, year by year.
We in the temperate climes are so lucky, we have the best place in the world, a place of ever-changing beauty, never repeating itself.
When the Winter sun is bright in the sky I like to hum a song John Denver once sang,
‘Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy,
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry,
Sunshine on the water is so lovely,
Sunshine almost always makes me high.’