Happy Yuletide!

Today at my home in the East Mainland of Orkney, the sun rose at 9.03 and set at 15.15. It is the shortest day of the year – the Winter Solstice, and the first day of the ancient twelve-day Yule Festival (the origin of the ‘The twelve days of Christmas’). 

I would have liked to celebrate the slow dawn by swimming in the sea, with the usual attendant selkie. But instead, I was on the sea, travelling south over the Pentland Firth to the Scottish mainland. 

So this year I will miss the chance to visit Maeshowe, the ancient tomb at the centre of the World Heritage site, ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’. Deep inside Maeshowe, the last rays of the winter solstice setting sun shine through the long low stone entrance passage, illuminating the burial chamber – that is, unless clouds get in the way. Judy Collins would understand that frustration.

Channelling my inner Pollyanna, I comfort myself with the realisation that, from here on, the days are getting longer. It will be summer before we know it.


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