I’m willing to bet that over the last few weeks at least a handful of observant people will have informed you, with dour doom laden voices the “The nights are drawing in now.” I wonder why that always comes as a surprise as the nights have been drawing in at this time of year since, well time began actually, yet it always comes as a surprise. You never hear people going around informing folk that the nights are drawing out in the spring do you?
I suppose what they are really saying is that winter is coming or, to put it another way, that’s another year of your life wasted. You know that novel you were going to write, the painting you were going to do or perhaps you were going to learn French, but you didn’t do it and there’s another year about to be laid to rest and you haven’t changed the world one bit, just like every other year.
At least in the Highlands this time of year can be a spectacular time to walk in certain areas. The best tip I can give is to go where the trees are. Glen Affric always explodes with colour at this time of year as the leaves begin to turn golden. If you are lucky enough to get into the hills you’ll no doubt hear the stags bellowing at each other as they get ready for the rut. The roars they emit can be roughly translated as, I’m a big boy I am, come over here if you think your hard enough, come on ladies look what a fine looking chap I am. In human terms they would be combing their hair into quiffs, riding around on motorbikes or splitting the silence with the jangling of electric guitars.
Impending winter, in years gone by, must have carried with it fears of what was to come. In the North folk would have been about to endure a battle for survival and, in most small communities, not all of them would see that following spring. Today winter is viewed with excitement as skiers begin to fantasize about snow covered hill and ice climbers sharpen the points of their battle gear. Since we didn’t really have a summer this year I hope we get a good winter, that’s a mountaineer’s good winter, with snow, hard frosts and clear sunlit days. At least at night we’ll be safe in doors with the central heating, if we can afford the gas that is.
So take care, buy a new duvet, gird your loins once more for winter will soon be upon us. In a couple of days’ time, if you haven’t heard it already, some bright spark will cheerfully inform you. Aye, Christmas soon! Bugger.