Although it may seem tempting to stay indoors during January, snuggled under a blanket in close proximity to the kettle, it's actually one of my favourite months to go walking, especially on clear frosty days. I thought I would write a little blog of some of my favourite things to look for in nature during January.
Number one: Sunrise and sunset
At this point in the calendar year in the Northern hemisphere we are tilted the furthest away from the sun. This means that the rays of light have more layers of atmosphere to pass through resulting in the vibrant pinks and oranges we see reflecting on the clouds. This combined with the fact the sun is lower in the sky than in summer means they also have more time to build and change. I love that they naturally occur around the time I am getting up and finishing work, meaning I can easily witness the coming and going of the light as bookends to my working day and feel in sync with the natural world. These shorter days also mean we can appreciate the dark skies and bright constellations on clear nights.
number two: hazel catkins
There aren't many flowers around in January so the fizzy yellow 'lambs' tail' catkins of the hazel tree swaying in the breeze are always a welcome sign that spring is on its way. The dangly catkins are the male flower and if you look very closely you will likely see the shocking pink tiny female flower nearby. Resembling a tiny starfish or sea urchin with its bright pink tendrils poking out of the bud that will eventually become a hazelnut in the autumn. There are also birch and alder catkins to look out for in January too.
number three: tree skeletons
another thing I love about January walks is being able to see the structure of all the deciduous trees and the patterns they form edging fields and hills against the sky. Closer to, I enjoy the subtle differences in their muted shades of grey, lilac and silver and occasionally orange as they reflect the setting sun's glow. Stripped of their leaves, it is in winter that they reveal their stories to us, how their branches have been shaped and twisted by the prevailing winds, and also their inhabitants as birds and fungi are more easily visible.
I hope this inspires you to take notice of the things you enjoy spotting in January and I love to hear what those things are in the comments below.
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