TAKING TIME: to Savour Bitter Winter Days
In Ireland we have what is described as a temperate climate. That is to say the temperature does not fluctuate too wildly. Temperatures vary from an Average of 5 degrees in January to 15 degrees average in July. But every year there comes a time when it becomes almost unbearable to be outdoors. The days become too short for the suns rays to have any meaningful effect on the air temperature and evening often threatens to arrive anytime after lunch. This can happen anytime from October to February.
The temperature hovers in and around 3-5 degrees celsius, nothing spectacular in itself, but combined with freezing, driving rain and a steady northern wind, these conditions can be best described as Bitter.
When the outdoors seem deliberately hostile towards you there is little option but to hibernate. In Kenneth Grahame's novel 'The Wind in the Willows' , Toad, Mole, Rat and Badger know only too well, that the best place to be on a bitterly cold day is tucked up warm in front of a roaring fire preferably with a hot toddy.
But if you have the thirst for adventure or are drawn into that steel wind there can be the most dramatic and spectacular rewards. Apart from rosey red cheeks the severe weather often transforms our mountainous landscape into a stark unfamiliar spectacle in high definition.
I prefer my hot blackcurrant served from a flask on the side of hill with the sublime frozen terror of the winter landscape as my backdrop. Ideally on leeside of a holly bush.
If you're going into the hills in winter, stay safe, dress appropriately, wear a high vis vest, bring a warm drink and tell someone where you are going.