Today the 24th Christmas eve marks the first day since the 21st that the Sun can be recorded as having moved its position when it setting, on the Horizon. The word Solstice itself means “standing still” and it is an amazing fact of nature that for the three days that follow the shortest day of the year in the North, the Sun does not change the position that it falls below the horizon at in the evenings.
Here are some more details about the Solstice on the web site Space.com : The Sun Stands Still
To mark this event here are some of my sunset images posted here on my blog over the last two years ….
Galley of sunsets
December , the month of great sunrises and sunset …….
To-night the west o’er-brims with warmest dyes;
Its chalice overflows
With pools of purple colouring the skies,
Aflood with gold and rose;
And some hot soul seems throbbing close to mine,
As sinks the sun within that world of wine.
You would think that in the first week of December, it would be hard to find anything interesting in the local landscape nature wise to get good and close to with a Macro lens, however there are still some amazing thing to be seen and captured 🙂
Here are just a few macro images taken this week …….
Evergreens and holly (genus Ilex) are traditionally used to decorate during the holidays. Although many simply enjoy the plants for their fragrance and holiday colors, the meaning of these plants goes deeper for others, including pagans. Historically, pagans had — and still have — specific beliefs about the power and symbolism of both evergreens and holly, and some still use the plants as decor in accordance with those beliefs.
Evergreen — Always Green
Evergreens are loosely defined as plants that retain their foliage and remain green year-round. Usually, the term refers to coniferous trees — trees that have needles or needle-like foliage, but it can refer to any plant that stays green all winter long, including holly. Today, evergreens are valued for their practical uses — as windbreaks, hedges and for use as Christmas trees. Pagans used them for more spiritual reasons.
Pagan Meaning of Evergreen
In some countries, it was believed that evergreens would keep evil out of the home — evil spirits and ghosts, and evil in the form of illnesses. For this reason, evergreen boughs were often cut down and hung over doorways and inside the home. Pagans also believed that the green branches represented everlasting life. Druids used evergreen branches to decorate their temples for this very reason, according to History.com. The green of the branches helped people to get through the long winter by having hope in the warmth and food that would come in the spring.
Holly — Pretty and Prickly
vary widely in leaf shape and appearance. Although there are over 400 species (Ilex opaca is the scientific name of American holly), the most popular for use during the holidays are those that produce bright red berries, which historically were seen by pagans as masculine plants even though it is the female plants that produce the fruit. Holly plants are generally hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, although this can vary by species. Most popular hollies are hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9.
Pagan Meaning of Holly
Holly has a more specific meaning for pagans. Historically, pagans believed that like evergreens, holly wards off evil spirits. They also believed that holly increased fertility. In addition to bringing in holly boughs to decorate the home and increase fertility, holly was also often planted outdoors around the house to keep out evil spirits.
There are many times of the year I love to be down near some of county Kilkenny’s rivers and small lakes, for some reason I find that December is just one of the best times of year to be near water. I love the feeling on a cold days near rivers, walking along in winter clothes, in a hat and gloves. Here you get a sense of how the rivers and their banks change from one season to the next.
These images are of a Waterfall located just outside the small town of Mullinavat, county kilkenny. The great named river Pollanassa which rises at the towns-land of Ballinteskin has in just a few miles gone from being a small stream to a powerful river that can easily flood the fields here after a storm.
The River Pollanassa , Waterfall in Decemeber : Gallery
So far the early mornings this week, the first week of December 2014 have been perfect , bright clear blue sky’s, an overnight frost that has melted away by 9am leaving the fields and woodland paths very wet and damp.
One walk with molly I love doing on mornings like this is in Ballykeefe woods county Kilkenny, this is a circular walk around the nature reserve that slowly claiming to a viewing point at the top of the hill, the view here is just wonderful. There is a bench to sit on after the walk and the landscape views below are of all the farms between the these woods and the mountain of Slievenamon just across the county border from county Kilkenny and into county Tipperary.
The images below are from this walk and the last image shows the landscape views from the wooden bench at the top of the hill
December by the lake
Well Its December and the Winter has truly started, the Weather in Ireland over the weekend was very overcast with sun-light being very hard to find.
I have been wondering how to show an Irish winter in my pictures, wondering what parts of the landscape best show the effects of the cold, grey and damp days ahead of us and the idea of getting down close to water came to me.
Ireland is a country blessed with many rivers, lakes and a wonderful Coastline so over the next weeks I will post many of these locations here and do my best to try to show the atmosphere of these great landscape location during the month of December.