The earliest darkness of the year

In this corner of north Wales, today is the day when the evenings stop getting shorter. Although it’s still nearly a fortnight until the winter solstice and the shortest overall day length the sun won’t set any earlier than it does today – about four o’clock this afternoon. It always feels like turning a corner and heading into a new year from now on, even though it will be another 10 days or so before the evenings actually start staying light later: for the next 10 days it will be a four o’clock sunset everyday. And until the New Year, the sunrise will be a little bit later everyday.

Winter sunset over the dunes at Penrhos beach
Winter sunset over the dunes at Penrhos beach, Anglesey

So far this winter, we have only had the slightest touch of frost and many tender plants are still growing strong in the garden. Some of the deciduous trees and shrubs are still hanging on to a few of their leaves. This hazel is confused: next to this year’s leaf the bud that should open next spring is starting to burst already.