In the bleak mid-winter

So, we pass the Solstice and find ourselves either mid-Winter and facing the oncoming Spring, or just sinking into Winter. It’s not so much a matter of glass-half-full or glass-half-empty really, more which standard one chooses to adopt. According to the Met Office, Winter has just begun. Me? I understand that there are the oncoming wintry months to face still – but I do like the Pagan tradition of welcoming the returning sun. I just accept that although the sun is on his way, he has an awful long  journey to make before we meet him at Platform 5 for his summer holidays in the Northern Isles.

stonehenge winter solstice 2007 by zombizi at Flickr
stonehenge winter solstice 2007 by zombizi at Flickr

Today I acknowledged for the first time the notion of Orkney as a dimly-lit place in the Winter months. We took the dogs out for a run along Cata Sand around 1pm. The sky was covered by low grey cloud and the sun was a very distant glow behind the cloud to the South. It was most definitely not fully daylight. Our last two Winters here have offered us bright sunshine in December, no matter how low the sun in the sky, and brilliant blue skies with billowing white cumulus. We have commented in the past that Winter in Orkney seemed nowhere near as dark and gloomy as it did in the hills of either Speyside or Dumfriesshire. Today though, the sun is definitely very far away from here and the light levels are as low at midday as I could  imagine, short of being in  Arctic regions.  66.5 degrees North? That’s not so very far from here actually – we are past 59 degrees North, almost level with the southern tip of Greenland. Father Christmas territory up here, you know.

Anyway, it could be bleaker. The winds have dropped for a while and the temperature is quite balmy. Only a F6 today, and currently 8.9 degrees C. No snow. No ice. Just a lot of sea and even more cloud. Hoping for something slightly more tropical for Thursday’s annual picnic!

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