Be on the lookout for a magnificent sunrise or a stunning sunset. Some of them with biblical personalities as the rays seem to stretch from the very heavens themselves.
There is no doubt about the temptation. The desire for winter sun. It’s perfectly understandable.
The long grey evenings, the dark dreary mornings would put years on you.
The lure of the open road to sunnier climes is appealing.
But if you can only yearn or look on enviously at the posts of those heading for the ferry bound for the south of France, Portugal or Spain, all is not lost.
Spot the dog takes a stroll on Lahinch beech to catch the setting sun.
We have a share of winter sun. Alright it’s not the same thing, but neither is it to be scoffed at or ignored.
Blink and you might miss it for sure and there are days and weeks even where it stubbornly decides not to put in an appearance at all between the fog, mist, haze and ever more increasingly stormy Atlantic weather systems.
‘In the meantime the frost is our friend…’ (photo by Paul Moore)
But when it does, it’s like the prodigal son, or sun as it is in this case, welcome, and welcomed with all previous omissions fast forgotten and forgiven.
The brisk mornings and crisp evenings are best as the winter sun arrives later and departs earlier than ever, so you do have to be alert to make the most of it.
My friend and one who delves into such matters, Laura Murphy, reminds us this week that ‘Solstice’ means ‘sun stands still’ or ‘grian-stad’ as Gaeilge.
As the earth leans furthest from the sun as we head for the winter solstice our sunrise is around 8.30am with the sunset at about 4.20pm, one heralding a new dawn, the other signing off. Either way we like to jest that you won’t feel it now ‘till there’s a stretch in the evening’.
In the meantime the frost is our friend, the sharp constellations etched into the ink of the night sky a signal to be on the lookout for a magnificent sunrise or a stunning sunset. Some of them with biblical personalities as the rays seem to stretch from the very heavens themselves.
There have been some stunning ones over the past fortnight and fingers crossed a few more to come yet to console us this winter.
While the sun may lack the heat of summer it nevertheless brings a welcome warmth and glow and the distant fireball hugging the horizon a hint of what we can look forward to on those trips we are still hatching for 2020.
That crimson sun can more than hold its own as it sinks below the hills but for best value, like fireworks, it doubles down on spectacular over water as can be seen in some of the super photos popping up on social media in recent days.
Keep them coming, they are a joy and we run some of them here, along with our own, on Vanhalla in the spirit of sharing some winter sunshine… we credit them where possible and where not, please do let us know as we are only too glad to do so.
* Additional photos courtesy of Paul Moore, Stephen O’ Rourke, Chaosheng Zhang, Evelyn Kallansee, Paul McGahon.
John Whelan is a vastly experienced midlands based journalist and editor who has contributed extensively to the country's leading national and regional titles, as well as broadcast outlets. He runs the media services company, Communicate Ireland www.communicateireland.ie.
John is a keen camping and campervan enthusiast with an interest in music, culture, heritage and outdoor pursuits. He has written for the Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and the Woman's Way on these topics.
He is also an author, and his latest book, The Last Beekeeper, reflects his love of nature, the landscape and our shared responsibility to protect the environment. The Last Beekeeper is available to preview and purchase at www.thelastbeekeeper.ie.