Grey days, red flannel shirts and stripey socks

Ardivachar-beach-winterAccording to the Celtic calendar this is the time of Great Darkness;  the short, cold days of November and December when hunger stalks the land and death awaits. It is not quite that bad on the islands on the edge of the world but there are times when strong magic is needed to award off an attack of the Hebridean Horribles.
The days when the weather gods stir the sea into a foaming cauldron, throw darts of icy rain at the windows or whip the wind round the chimney are full of energy and drama, and will rouse even the most lethargic souls. It is on dreich days when the grey mists of melancholy creep into the crevices of the psyche of the unwary. Waking in the dark, watching the dawn slither in on a monochrome tide, the soul is chilled as the winter sun, obscured by a heavy veil of cloud, is too feeble to warm the land and suffuse the clouds with rose. The air is dank and even the local buzzard looks morose as it sits hunched on a fence post as lugubrious as a brown clad cleric.
stripey-socksOn dark mornings a little thaumaturgy is needed to break the desire to hibernate and incantations may be required to ward off lethargy. The wearing of amulets is obligatory, such as oversize, red flannel shirts or stripey socks, to conjure smiles and fits of giggles to drive away any lingering melancholic humors. In the gloomy twilight hours the baking of oblations will fill the kitchen with the incense of warm spices and the fragrance of molasses sugar, ginger and sun-dried fruits to create an aura of well-being and please the gods. Finally a libation of hippocras or uisge beatha  completes the daily rituals to ward against the pavor nocturnus and summon sweet dreams. However, all will be of no avail if a thimbleful is not left for the aos sí .
Alas there is only one cure for a serious attack of the Hebridean Horribles and that is sunshine. Ardivachar-beach-winter-sunshine

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10 thoughts on “Grey days, red flannel shirts and stripey socks

    • It is always beautiful and the interchange of light is magical even on the grayest of days. The kitchen is the heart of any croft house and should always be full of the aromas of baking bread and cakes accompanied by the smell of fresh coffee and clinking tea cups. I think I’d be deported if I did otthe wise.

  1. Do you have outdoor critters? Sheep, goats or the like? How do they fare? I so enjoy your posts and images. Not sure I could brave the winters though. Will you escape to some sunny haven?
    Happy Holidays. I can just imagine the heavenly scents from your kitchen. Cheers!

    • No animals, but I borrow some of my neighbours cattle to graze the grassland. Not many goats about, but plenty of sheep and cattle. The traditional breeds are very hardy and stay outdoors all year, although if the weather is very bad some of very young calves may spend a few days indoors.
      Cooking is a great way to spend a rainy day and there is nothing more comforting that some homemade cake or a bowl of soup.

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