Friday 23 December 2016

The Solstice and Barbara

The 'last quarter' moon visible on Solstice morning. 
I honestly think that these days, the Solstice means more to me than the highly commercialised booze, food and present buying fest of Christmas. We try to get into the 'magic', we do the tree, the lights, the gifts, the fancy food and the drink but I can't honestly say I come out of the other end with any new sense of optimism or any conviction that things will be different on the 26th to how they were on the 24th.

Jetting off on the same morning
Nope. Now that I spend so much time out of doors and out in the weather, the solstice is the one which grabs my attention because it marks the time when we change from the rather depressing shortening of days and long dark evenings to the days getting longer at last. In my head we start the climb out of winter into spring, to warmth and sunshine.

Deefer is quite happy with the sleeping arrangements
Don't worry. I have not suddenly gone all Druid on you or pagan spiritualism; it is a purely gardener/farmer thing. I am fascinated by how this works. I know, of course that the day length is practically stationary around now and the 'change' from decrease to increase is infinitesimal, measured in seconds. The daylength graph is similar to a sine wave curve and the solstice is right at the bottom of the curve, where it runs almost horizontal (or at the top, likewise for the Summer solstice). The rate of change accelerates till the Equinox (March 21st) when, if memory serves, each day is 3 full minutes longer than 'yesterday' - a big enough change that you can 'feel it' and you know that in a week Sunday will be roughly 20 minutes longer than last Sunday.

The one-headed, 32 clawed tree wrecker. 
So I have had my solstice and I am mentally now in an up-turn, all be it I know that it is a huge long haul through March and April before we see any real warmth and we dry out a bit from this wet, wet, wet. In fairness again, this winter has done amazingly well for rainless- and windless-ness. It feels as if we have had no real rain through from mid-October, all through November and through December up until the aforementioned solstice when it all went a bit 'Pete Tong'.

Storm Barbara weather warnings
Solstice day (21st) saw the weather warnings for our first named storm for 2 months, Storm Barbara. The B-name tells you how good the weather has been. Normally we'd expect a load of these storms through November and we'd be well into the G, H, I, J or K by Christmas. Barbara promised plenty of wind and rain but the eye was going to skirt up north of us and slam into Scotland.

A miserable morning as Storm Barbara hits.
We battened down the hatches, of course, with concrete blocks and ratchet straps on bee hives, hutches and chicken coops and all tall stuff like ladders laid flat on the ground. We got the blow of wind through today as promised, from 0600 to 1800 but the only damage we suffered was when one of our new jackdaw-pots went airborne and landed in Liz's rose garden out front.

This year's 'turkey' is this 5 kg Aberdeen Angus rib roast
Of course, Solstice or not, Christmas still comes and we get involved and have a good time. This year we have 'Steak Lady' staying which is always a brilliant time. We also, famously, have no turkey as Brer Fox helpfully removed all three of our nearly grown turkey poults a couple of weeks back. Rather than try to sub in somebody else's turkey we decided on a complete change from 'tradition'; Liz nipped off to our belovéd local traditional butcher Ignatius G (who 'does' our lambs) and ordered a big ol' beef rib roast. "How big will you be needing it?" asked Mr G. "It's for 3" said Liz and Mr G started to indicate "about this thick then" holding thumb and forefinger only a couple of inches apart. "Oooh No", said Liz, "I need 3 ribs - we have 3 dogs too!"

All manner of Christmas goodies - these are dillisk (seaweed)
and cheese biscuits. 
I collected it today and a more magnificent chunk of beef I don't think I have seen. It is local Aberdeen Angus and weighed almost 5 kg. It will do us proud. It was very reasonable in price too and Liz, checking out UK prices worked out that it would have set us back around £80 in Kent. We are looking forward to it.

That'll do me for this time. Guest now in place so I shouldn't really be rattling stuff into the PC and ignoring my hosting duties. You all have a great Christmas now and I will talk to you again on Tuesday when it's all over.

Nollaig shona dhuit!


Care Towers said...

Cheers Matt! Glad you survived Barbara, just Christmas to survive now! I'm way behind on Care Towers, but will catch up eventually. Have a great Christmas one & all, from at Care Towers (and absent offspring) xxx

Graham said...

Agree with you that themore time spent outdoors connects you more with nature. I hate the commercialization of Christmas but enjoy getting friends and family together and enjoying some really good food and drink.Cracking blog by the way.