I took this particular photograph nearly six years ago now, in January 2011. It is from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, looking towards the New Town. The three church spires you can see are part of St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral on Palmerston Place, one of the capital’s nicer churches. The tower just about hidden by the tree in the centre of the photograph is no longer a church. It sits at the bottom of St. Vincent Street in the New Town. The first time I ever saw it was on one of my earlier wanderings around the New Town and I remember thinking it was the kind of church where you could readily imagine a newly married couple walking down the steps as their guests showered them in confetti.
That winter, between 2010 and 2011, was very cold in Scotland, probably the last really bad one we’ve had. I still lived in Dunbar and the weather was so bad that the trains were off for a week. I didn’t leave Dunbar for a fortnight and when I did, it took 2 hours to reach Edinburgh by bus. I am writing this on a night when the first real snow fell in the Scottish Central Belt though it has been more rainy here in the Weeg. The closure of the road between Cock Bridge and Tomintoul up north has happened already, with the inevitable photos of Siberian weather rattling through the glens.
There are so many stereotypes of the Scottish weather, that it always rains and it’s always cold. Today has been cold and rainy but honestly it isn’t always such. The last couple of weeks have, more or less, been glorious here in Glasgow with the autumn colours being brought out to full effect. Now it is getting much more wintry and looking at this photograph of the Botanics, I am looking forward to it. You see, the Scottish winter is a time of early darkness, sure, but it’s also a time when our light is that bit paler and that bit more precious too. Like our summer, it is a season of long shadows, as seen in this photograph, but it is still hopeful, celebratory of the year past and looking forward to the new year to come.