The light is sharp and ruthless. It takes no prisoners, quickly finding the cobwebs, the blotches and streaks on the window pane, the dust covered light bulbs and the top of the books in the library.
A cold pure light, cutting and harsh. But oh, so beautiful, the way it slips through the curtains in the morning and peers between the bare branches of the hedgerow, creating a silhouette that is almost a negative. It highlights the structure and shape of each limb on the ragged Ash. Limbs that only a few months ago were dressed in their summer finery and are now naked, skeletal as the tree slips silently into its wintry sleep.
The winter’s sun brings forth tears to the uncovered eyes with a brightness that bears no relation to heat. It dazzles the early morning driver and walker alike who use their sunglasses as weapons.
By afternoon, the sun increases its bright stare, shining its golden haze about the woods and fields, raising the still grazing cattle to angelic stature. And by early evening it bleeds pink against the fast falling darkness. The shortness of the day seems in direct proportion to the intensity of the sun’s light as if Winter is saying – “Watch me burn brighter”, throwing out ray after clear beautiful ray to compensate for the deep dark nights.
These are days for crisp, chilling walks along frosty footpaths and leaf-strewn country roads as the wind tugs at our hats and tries its best to pluck the scarves from about our necks as it colours our cheeks and noses.
It is also a time for contemplation – for the winter sun heralds the end of the yearly cycle of nature’s birth and death. We think of our own lives, our own cycle of renewal, the workings of the last year and our successes and failures. The bright sunlight calls us outside, away from the warmth and all things comfortable, it forces our eyes open, to experience the wonder of winter’s glacial beauty; the light that shines on the frost-covered world, like so many finely cut diamonds. It calls to us to come out and play, to kick up the leaves like eager children, to watch the robin on the post and the pheasant who struts his exotic grandeur against the whitened, early morning grass.
And then as we walk, wrapped against the elements we realise that the cold light of a winter’s day is one of the greatest gifts of nature and that the best is always yet to come.