The shortest day always gives me the feeling I should be celebrating somehow – this is the winter solstice, I ought to be out gathering mistletoe with the druids, or dancing with them round a bonfire at Stonehenge. It’s my pagan soul, I suppose, deepest atavistic instincts in tune with the earth.
I don’t really feel much affinity with druids on the whole, but I can understand their desire to fête the solstice. Sunrise this morning was at 8.04 in London. We are a few degrees further north, so it was probably around the time I opened my eyes, visited the bathroom and went back to bed (it’s Sunday, after all). I did notice it was daylight, but as we are surrounded by houses, it’s rare that we get to see a proper sunrise here.
Sunset will be at 15.53, so there is a chance of my seeing that if I take a little walk up the road towards the park. It’s a clear bright day, a bit chilly but well above zero, and appears to have nothing exceptional about it. Annoying.
My information is that the actual moment of being furthest from the sun will be at 23.03 GMT. So following the Christmas Carol service for the 4th Sunday in Advent, which will be over by 8 pm, I shall have time to gird up my loins, wrap up warm and venture out to study the night sky. Who knows what signs and wonders may appear? I want to see a bit of aurora borealis, or some other celestial indication that we are tilted away further from the sun than we have been for the past 12 months, and that sunset is going to get later and later from now on. Flaming dragons should be leaping around the horizon, unicorns springing from the clouds – maybe I’m simply in the wrong dimension.
PS: My walk yielded nothing but grey skies in the west and a golden stripe across the eastern horizon. But at 4.30, this was the view through the window towards the west: