Ben Lowry: You can see something of a stretch in the evenings already!

Above is a wonderfully atmospheric wintry picture taken yesterday in the snow on Divis Mountain.

Saturday, 8th January 2022, 10:08 am
Updated Monday, 10th January 2022, 2:18 am
Walkers on Divis Mountain on Friday morning as many parts of Northern Ireland were hit by snow. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

(Scroll down for link to Ben Lowry’s main column about Tony Blair)

Where I was based, on the other side of Belfast Lough, the day began with a frost which quickly wore off.

For a while I was working in a room into which bright sunshine was streaming.

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There was an uplifting sense of an emerging spring.

I often write on these pages about the shortening or lengthening days, and how I find November a month full of gloom and January a month full of optimism, as the light gradually but noticeably begins to return.

Yet for all my focus on the topic of the seasons and equinoxes and the solstices, even I was struck by an observation of an elderly — now deceased — relative years ago one day in early January (I seem to recall it was sometime around the 4th or 5th or 6th). He was hosting family for Sunday lunch and as I gave my spiel about the joys of January and light retuning, he said: yes, you can see the stretch already!

Even I, deeply sympathetic to such a perspective, wondered: really? So soon?

But in fact I have long since realised that he was correct.

The earliest sunset of the year is some days before the December 21 winter solstice, around Dec 15 to 17, so the days have by now been stretching for almost a month.

The sun sets in Belfast at 4.18pm today, more than 20 minutes later than that earliest sunset.

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter editor

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