Friday, January 09, 2009

Northern Exposure

There are some things that are not particularly enviable about being in the Northwest of Europe at this time of the year. Having lived in both Scotland and Ireland, I’m used to all of the problems - it’s damp, it’s nastily cold without ever being spectacularly cold, and it’s a bit depressing in that it’s dark until gone 8 in the morning, and dark again by 4 or 5 in the afternoon (or earlier, the further North you go in Scotland).

Another downer in Ireland is, you tend to hardly get any
snow, which is something I do miss about not being in Scotland. Then again, in Ireland it almost never hits -10 C even at night, which is something you can look forward to a few times a year in Scotland. As for the wind out of the East (which means Siberia via Scandinavia) that you get on the East coast of Scotland, don’t start – it makes me scared to go outside just thinking about it.

One thing that really is great about this time of year though, is the sunlight.

Between the long hours of darkness, you do get a few hours of daylight, and the light at this time of year is pretty special. I guess it must be because the sun is so low on the horizon for most of the time, because I notice it a bit in Ireland, and even more so in Scotland, which is another few
hundred miles north. You really notice how low the sun is in Scotland, because driving during any daylight hours apart from around noon means you are getting flat sun straight in your eyes the whole time.

Whatever the reason, the light at this time of year seems to alter the colours of everything you see. Everything from the most spectacular landscapes to the most seemingly unremarkable cityscapes are suddenly sprayed sideways with multicolour gradients of oranges, reds and dark yellows.

The most humdrum industrial estates and wastelands are suddenly caught in a permanent half-sunset, and it's worth the passage through this dark corner of the year just to see the magic of everything glowing deep orange for half the morning and half the afternoon.

1 comment:

rudegary said...

Ahhh, beautiful Ballycoolin