It's the Pagans Day tomorrow when we celebrate the Winter Solstice...though I have to confess I'm tending to think that at last the evenings will be slowly drawing out from tomorrow onwards...just a little at a time and barely noticeable at first...but by March we have long light evenings and I can pick early Primroses and find a few Violets perhaps.
Some years ago I went up to Carrowkeel with a group of acquaintances to watch as the sun rose on the day of the Winter Solstice...it was bitterly cold with snow falling and they were all horribly hale and hearty and had proper walking sticks with thingies on the bottom so they didn't slip...Dave...he could only possibly be called Dave...the self-styled leader of this little group...there was a Guard, a teacher and me...we marched behind our Dave as he gave a running commentary on the Solstice most of which was completely and awfully wrong...
But I couldn't interrupt 'cos I was fighting for breath and had to keep stopping to talk to the mountainy sheep...we reached the cairn where the light from the rising sun strikes the back wall in a precise manner and all of us squeezed inside and sat there in happy expectation. And drank tepid coffee from flasks...no sugar either...I tipped mine quietly away among the stones and hoped I wasn't breaking some ancient code by so doing...
We sat there for quite a while actually...ages if you want to know the truth. It was broad daylight when we finally emerged onto the mountaintop and our Dave looked slightly shamefaced...
As well he might. We'd followed his lead like the mountainy sheep and had been sitting in entirely the wrong cairn...other people were emerging bleary-eyed from the 'right' cairn and spouting about how wonderful it was and such an experience and so on...
We could have lynched him I suppose...we certainly felt it would be totally justified if we'd sacrificed him to the ancients right there and then...but we didn't. They all went off on a hike across the mountaintop and I walked slowly back down to where we'd left the car...I met up with some Germans and we waved our arms about and shouted at each other and quite enjoyed the conversation and they went off to find a hot breakfast and I peeled wet layers off and put the car heater on full and smoked a rollie.
The others turned up eventually, led as always by our Dave, I'd thawed out and was reading through the manual of his little car for lack of anything else and had half an eye on the mountainy sheep and everyone piled in and we set off for home...
When we reached our little cottage our Dave asked brightly would there be a fried breakfast and I gave him a withering sort of a look and said I don't eat dead pig actually and the others stifled giggles and said it was so good to meet with you and stay safe and so on...I went indoors and had a hot bath and a decent cup of coffee and changed into warm and comfortable clothes and that was the first and the last time I've trekked up Carrowkeel mountain to watch the sunrise on the winter solstice...