The dark of the year

by Diane

In this morning’s Irish Times, a front-page image: “The Brotherhood of the Turkey celebrating its favourite fowl in Licques, northern France, yesterday.”

December 16 Screengrab from GeoClock

…Sigh. Normally this would strike me as silly-season stuff, but for me right now this kind of thing is welcome in the mornings as a distraction from the darkness of the season. I have always had a touch of seasonal affective disorder — nothing crippling…just a real hatred of the time of year (especially in this latitude) when the Sun retreats furthest south and the days are shortest. Right now, when I get up at eight it’s still dark, and I know it’ll be dark again by four. (See this morning’s screengrab from GeoClock, and look how low the terminator swings over Ireland at the moment. Though it could be worse…we could be Iceland…) Add to this the rotten weather we’ve been having, so overcast that the light level hardly makes it above late-twilight level all day, and I get, if not outright sluggish, just unexcited about doing anything but going back to sleep. Not a mood or a luxury I can indulge at the moment: I’m in the middle of Wizard’s Holiday and finishing The Empty Chair, not to mention getting ready to go up to the family in Northern Ireland for the holidays, getting the holiday cards out, and so on… I would really love not to be doing anything but the work right now — not to be having to think about presents, shopping, holiday logistics. But this would doubtless be considered by some to be heresy. Oh well.

Holiday cards — that reminds me. Here’s one that’s apropos. We print our own, these days — why not? the Epson photo printer is good for all kinds of things — and the image you see here was taken at the Solstice last year,

Midwinter Sunset in the Demesne

when the Sun seems to set right across the road from us, in a direction we normally treat as close enough to due south not to matter. When printed as half of an A4 page and at its proper resolution, the image has a “stained glass” look that probably doesn’t come across here: if you’re interested, the image displayed here is linked to the full-size version.

…For you rabid image-processors out there, the original digital photo was imported into Corel Photo-Paint 11, where it was first “watercolored” using Segmentis UK’s “buZZ Pro 2.0” plugin, then slightly textured using Corel’s “emboss” effect, and finally had a “pure color” effect added, also from buZZ.)

The other card we did has holly on it — our property is surrounded by holly bushes and trees of varying sizes. Unfortunately these seem not to do much of anything about keeping the sheep out of the front garden when they get loose from the fields behind the house (which happens frequently). At least the sheep haven’t eaten all the plants in the rockery this year (as they did last year when they got in just before Christmas)….it’s almost recovered now, after having been replanted last spring. (Could I be speaking too soon? If those monsters get in again somehow while we’re up with Peter’s mum in Belfast, mutton is going to be on the menu when we get back…)

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