Sunrise might be the spectacle of a January day, over in half an hour. Don’t expect colour after that. Out on Scout Scar, I saw gorse where I’ve watched linnets in spring and summer – the gorse a mass of yellow flowers smelling of coconut. Here, I found a juvenile cuckoo, my wildlife find of the year. And red-tailed bumblebees feed on knapweed. Forget colour in January. But deep in the January gorse there’s a speck of orange. What can it be?
Snow on the ground, sunlight and louring cloud made a magical January day in Borrowdale. We were up amongst the high tarns on a boggy watershed where colourful sphagnum moss was frozen and lichens sculpted with ice. The day was memorable for me because we were surprised to hear music in the wind. I had heard it once before but even so, it's magical. Have you ever heard the Eolian harp whilst walking in the Lake District Fells?
Unleashed from the Arctic, a polar vortex sweeps south and plunges Canada and the US toward – 50 degrees.
In the Antarctic, old ice erupts like a volcano and freezes solid about the Australian research ship, stuck since Christmas Eve. Phenomenal.
Chesil Beach is heaved about in a succession of storms, reshaped. Off Portland, a landmark sea-stack is shattered. The waves pounding the sea-front at Aberystwyth feature on the news over and over. On the Somerset Levels , the village of Muchelney is only accessible by boat. The power and energy of the sea is a source of wonder, and fear.
With all this drama and turbulence it seems churlish to grumble about gloomy days. But with some five weeks of relentless rain the dreariness penetrates, even if you’ve escaped the floods. After the darkness, sunlight is inspirational.
Jan Wiltshire is a nature writer living in Cumbria. She also explores islands and coast and the wildlife experience. (See Home and My Books.)