Thursday 11 January 2024

Thank you Winter. Don’t listen to the others. I love you.


Waking to the sound of no rain hammering my bedroom windows, I turn on the lamp.


Above me silence reigns, where last week the wind played a violin concerto, as waves of rain smashed violently onto the roof. 

The mighty old ash trees that surround me here reveal by the pitch of their howl the energy of the storm. 

I see stars through the velux window.


Clear means icy, frosty, the end of the nasturtiums at last. 

There are countless downsides to being a writer, but having to get out of bed while it’s still dark isn’t one of them.

Propping up a pillow behind my head I reach for the doorstop of a hardback that has sustained and entertained me for two weeks now.

What luxury!

For years I commuted into London, physically hurling my body at packed tube trains, just as the doors started to close, so that my impact would allow me to squeeze into the space between glass and wedged workers.

No more.

No need, reason or desire to leave the house. Just get up, do my stretches, make a fire, have breakfast and go to my office. There I can sit and write as long as I want to, because outside it’s freezing/lashing/blowing a gale/winter.

Apart from housework, there is nothing else I can do today. 

Good writing weather: that’s what I call it.

God knows what other poor souls who live rural lives do on days like this. Sometimes being a scribbler feels like a blessing, because I’m condemned to neither loneliness nor Loose Women.

Without the writing Winter would send me even more doolally than I already am.

Ireland has produced so many writers, because instead of going on merry social jaunts, we’re forced by the rain to stay inside; to apply our madness to writing.

Others warn me of the dangers of isolation, but I experience way more craziness out there in the human world, than here in my solitude.

Exchanging pleasantries with shop workers or howyas on the street inevitably entails listening to them giving out something rotten about the wind and rain.

They can take the cold, and love the sunshine. Oh they’ll take anything, except that rain, the wind and the rain. They just can’t bear it.

I nod and smile, eager but socially unable to moan back at them:

“Well why the bloody hell do you live here then, in this country famed for wind and rain? Move to Morocco. But no, ‘cos once it gets above 20 degrees you’re giving out like babies that it’s fearful hot. And as for humid, well believe me, what you call humid in Ireland truly isn’t.”

Would you want to sit there and tell me you hate a quarter of your life?

Well then, don’t give out about the only Irish season that does what it says on the calendar.
In Winter we can enjoy each day’s sunrise and sunset. With the sun so low on the horizon, the heavens offer severe contrasts and jaw-dropping colours.

Shafts of fire and crimson shoot from both dawn and dying sun, up into black clouds bulging with rain. The light and dark bleed together, mutating into a menacing purple glow, intense with latent power. 

As the sun creeps along its low Winter horizon it lights up the empty branches of trees.

The best of Winter comes not with what is, but what is not.

During the darkest months, while we uncivilised beasts rush around in festive frenzy, arrogantly believing ourselves immune to mammalian hibernation, the natural world becomes calm.

Stand still for only a few minutes each day and you’ll discover how in Winter our environment exists in a variety of silences, offering the bliss of several levels of peace. 

At Winter dusk there are no power tools; not even birdsong here.

Not a sound; not a movement; not a car in the distance nor a ram at a ewe. 

A majestic calm hangs over the land. Away from war and Christmas shopping, here right now, at our feet, the world is placid. 

With shorter days I sleep more and try to expect less of myself. A very fine and fancy shmancy idea, but the outside world (a.k.a. life) always steps in and dictates the rules.

Still, despite the trials and challenges life presents, which as we all know it does, relentlessly, I make sure to give thanks for Winter.

When the trees are still, silent and naked, I enjoy nothing more than standing by the back door, watching the birds eat the seeds I’ve strewn.

Oh wow!

A young fox appears, not 20 feet from me.

Robust with health in his lush rusty coat, he licks up a few mouthfuls of birdseed and jumps over the stone wall. 

The weather forecast unfolds over my house.
I take time to appreciate the glorious tranquillity.  

I like to stand on the bog road at 8:30 on a January morning, watching the huge sun creep above the hill, slashing the sky 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.

Away over there another fox appears in daylight, because it has to, and I admire the size of this 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.

I stop in my 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.

Drinking in the stillness; the only sound a breeze in my ear.

Thank you Winter.

Don’t listen to the others.

I love you.





©Charlie Adley