Ben Lowry: The joy of crisp, sunny days and the gradual return of daylight

The sun lights the sky above snow covered fields in Co Antrim last week
The sun lights the sky above snow covered fields in Co Antrim last week

Far from being grim or unpleasant this week, the weather has been beautiful at points.

In Belfast, there were several mornings in which I woke up to see daylight gradually emerge to reveal snow on rooftops or on the distant hills.

As the light took form, there was that glorious moment when you begin to see that the sky is cloudless and blue.

Last week, I was in the Alps where the weather is often like this.

Here, it is rarer but by no means rare. Crisp, sunny days, when they happen in Northern Ireland, are one of the great joys of winter.

On Tuesday evening I was at a lecture at Queen’s University, where we emerged to find it was snowing steadily and gathering on the ground, rather than turning into slush.

When that part of Belfast, one of the best laid out and most attractive, gets snow it is almost as if you in are a 19th century wintry scene as depicted by James Joyce or Charles Dickens.

Talking of the latter, I veer towards Scrooge when I hear of needless school and transport closures in such circumstances.

There are, as I wrote on this page a few weeks ago, good reasons for many health and safety rules, but the snow had melted to such a degree in Greater Belfast on Wednesday that it was hard to justify the inconvenience, even chaos, that can be caused by panic closures (unlike Tuesday’s lecture, which went ahead at the height of the challenging weather and was well attended, including by many people of retirement age).

But the pleasure that can be had from beholding such weather helps to banish any Scrooge feelings.

There is the added uplift in late January from the small but noticeable increase in the length of the days. Very slowly, the darkness of midwinter is being pushed away. Light and life is returning.

Am I imagining it or is even the birdsong different, and more lively, at this point in the calendar to a month ago?

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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