There is a deceitfulness about days in early January. Dublin’s Grafton Street was buzzing with people yesterday, there were dozens of people ambling around Saint Stephen’s Green. A corduroy jacket and a scarf were sufficient to feel comfortably warm. It seemed odd to see Christmas decorations so late in the year, except, of course, it was not late in the year, it was only the second day of the year. Portents of spring will likely be followed by weather that properly merits the adjective “wintry.”
John Creedon, the Irish broadcaster whose RTÉ Radio 1 programme can be heard online by listeners on this side of the Irish Sea, would have an upbeat assessment of spring days at the opening of the year. Regarding summer as something that might occur at any point between 1st January and 31st December, he would urge the enjoyment of fine days whenever they present themselves, not to be so apprehensive of days of rain and gales and snow and ice, that might or might not arrive, that there is a failure to appreciate the present moment and the opportunity it brings.
Perhaps the guile of January is in its ability to “steal” days from those who live through its days. There will always be the doomsayers, those who predict gloom and misfortune even on the brightest of days. An elderly neighbour in Co Down would never be reassured that the winter was passed, “there’s time enough yet, Mr Poulton,” she would say, telling tales of snow in May. Her oft repeated maxim was that “as the days get longer, the cold gets stronger.” Of course, there was evidence to support her contention, January brings more daylight, but also colder temperatures, but the contention was so underlain with an attitude of gloom that it barred the enjoyment of the many days of fine weather that often came with a new year. January can so fill people with apprehension that they are afraid to leave their coats at home on balmy afternoons and walk out in the sunshine for fear that they might be tempting some meteorological providence.
Perhaps there is a rural-urban split in attitudes, perhaps those whose daily lives are much more governed by the elements are less sanguine about unseasonal sunny days; perhaps those for whom snow and ice might bring not much more than a passing inconvenience can feel more relaxed in the enjoyment of each day that comes.