Today is the Winter Solistice – the shortest day of the year, if by ‘day’ we mean daylight hours. Yet, in this so-far extraordinarily warm Winter, even at this point in the annual cycle of birth and rebirth there is much to see when we venture out into the great urban spaces such as Liverpool’s Sefton Park.
This is the Winter Solstice, a time when little is expected of an urban park, a time of anticipated bleakness and dank dark days. Yet in this month of nothingness Liverpool’s Sefton Park, just a mile or two from the city centre, has life in abundance. The small creatures of the secret places continue to roam their tracks, there are birds both of the water and of the air, and humans too, of every sort, take their ease with their companions, their children, their partners and their four legged friends.
A park for all
Here are young and older couples, parents and children, kids looking for a bit of fun by the lake, people exercising seriously and people intent on doing nothing. The short day offers no excuse for staying indoors, whether there be sunshine or showers. The opportunity to take the air remains, for so far this Winter there have not been many really wild or soakingly wet days when the only place to be is home. Even in this, the solstice week, walking in the park is what the people of Liverpool have been doing.
Mists and mellowness, not biting winds
This is still, in Winter 2006, the season of mists and shadowy silhouettes against the sky. It is not as yet the season of ice and snow, though doubtless this will prevail as the year turns on the coming Spring equinox, for a short while
covering everything in a shining blanket of white.
But for now the mildness of Autumn stays with us whilst the temperament of Winter fails to claim the expectations of the park. The days are short but the fierceness of wind and sleet which usually accompanies this brevity of light has not on the whole been forthcoming. We continue, urban ramblers at our leisure, unchallenged by the elements in the brief hours of light and even sunshine which this strange solstice is affording.
The sun, golden
Yes, we have seen rain – and on a few days much rain, though not bitingly cold and cutting – but we see also setting suns against the faded former glories of the bandstand, we watch that same sunset against the snowy-looking clouds behind the trees, and we gaze until it disappears at the liquid gold of the lake, reflecting the sky which illuminates all below it.
Waiting for Winter
This is a time of waiting. The solstice will very soon be forgotten as Christmas takes a hold on the park, the city and, it seems to us from where we stand, the entire world. Perhaps this year the many strollers who occupy Sefton Park on Christmas Day and Boxing Day will be sporting not their usual new, thick Winter scarves and woolly hats, but the lighter attire of Autumn and Spring. This year we may, it seems, be spared the cruel inclemencies of deep Winter, thereby