Sunday 28 January 2018


While you’re all doubtless excited about the arrival of Spring next week, Lá Fhéile Bhríde, buds bulging and crocus bulbs bursting out of the ground, this contrary colyoomist will feel a sense of loss.

Of course I’m glad to see the light earlier in the morning, but equally I’ve enjoyed those extra minutes in bed, afforded by the darkness beyond the glass.

I’ll not miss the flu, nor the wiping of the inside car windscreen. I’ll be pleased when it’s light late enough to find the wee hole in the ground that secures the front gate. 

No fun, struggling in a howling gale and sideways rain under a moonless sky, one hand holding Lady Dog’s lead, the other scraping the gate bolt along the ground, cursing aloud about fluorescent paint, and what great idea that'd be.

I won’t miss those moments when Winter feels adversarial. It might be Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, the lack of sunlight and vitamin D that brings your mood down. It might be all that Christmas frenzy, a hissing cauldron of stress and activity so very far from Silent Night.

Or was it the psychological warfare of naming storms that tipped you over the edge? We who live on this Atlantic seaboard know that unless it’s a Red warning, we’re not bothered. We’ll take your gales, your 8s and 9s, but when it hits 10, we notice.

You can’t help but notice, because a storm makes a noise of its own; a jaw-dropping intestine-squidging roar that makes you give thanks you can close the window and stay safe and warm inside.


Now they give a name to anything Orange or above, so we feel constantly under threat from names with no faces. Inevitably it is the storm least hyped that delivers the most shocking blow, but nobody really expects the Met Office or Met Éireann to get it perfectly right.

Mind you, if I were on a boat…

While those storms are scary and limit your lifestyle, they also offer us coastal county dwellers a raw encounter with nature that few others experience; a reminder that we can make plans, but in the face of an Atlantic depression, they are puny.

Storms fill your head and lungs with adrenalin, which is why some young ones become pure idiots and drive their hot hatchbacks through breaking waves, but all of us profit from the high we feel as the wind dies and the skies clear.

We feel physically lighter; not just pleased to have survived another humdinger wind, but aerobically pumped up on the same free ions that inspired Beethoven to write his Pastoral Symphony.


Yet for every mad moment of tempestuous fury, Winter offers profound calm. For each day lost to grey skies and seemingly endless hours of rain, there will be early Winter mornings that offer combinations of colour so stark and strong they force my feet to be still, and then my breathing. These are the reasons I will miss the passing of Winter. 

Naturally I love warm weather and sunshine. I love to lie on the grass under Summer’s bluest sky, watching wispy clouds pass overhead to the soundtrack of a host of insects.

But also - call me weird if you must - I like to stand on the bog road with my dog at 8:30 on a mid-Winter’s morning, watching the huge sun creep above the hill, slashing the sky over Connemara so that it bursts a blood red snakeskin pattern above pitch black mountains.


I love the abruptness of Winter silence. 
Trees demand attention, starkly silhouetted inverted lungs, plugged into the planet.

Over there a fox appears in daylight, because it has to, and I admire the size of the beast, surprisingly brown, with a yard long brush ending in a white bobble. By god, it’s thriving.

When all the undergrowth is stripped back, Winter allows you to encounter Ireland’s wildlife up close. The pair of herons that in midsummer would have no need to be close to humans now launch themselves out of the drainage ditch up the bog road.

Lady and I stop in our tracks as they rip-roar out of the reeds, casually flapping their great dinosaur wings, rising straight up only to settle back down 20 yards away on the bog.

At midday, dazzled by the low sun, I stand under a deep blue sky, vivid rust bogland to the horizon.

Swimming in the stillness, the only sound the breeze in my ear.
Winter alone offers that, sometimes even in the city.

For a brief couple of weeks the place is empty. Bad news for landlords, but marvellous for antisocial types like myself, who’d rather listen to one wise or witty person than the unintelligible babble of a festival crowd.

Having survived the other three seasons, I know most of you love our long Summer evenings. On those Connacht nights when you can simultaneously see dusk in the west and dawn in the east it feels like a reward. The Snapper cannot wait for those endless days to return, but here again I fail to conform.

I like evening. Maybe it’s because I work for myself, or maybe I just take after my mum, who talks of ‘digging in’, but at the end of a day I like to light the fire and enjoy a few hours as a family together.

When I lived in west Connemara my living room had windows on three sides. All the endless Summer daylight sent me a bit bananas, pacing around on my own, longing for the night to come.

In a few weeks dawn will arrive at silly o’clock, and new life will burgeon forth.
We’ll all be filled with energy and enthusiasm, but deep inside me, there’ll be a warm thought for Winter's cold calm.


©Charlie Adley

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