Monday, 19 May 2008

Red Skies


Monday 19th May 2008

The idea of ”Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning” is probably the best known of hundreds of old sayings about the weather. It seems to have out survived almost all the other old saws which at one time took the place of the television weather forecast. In America the saying substitutes ‘sailor’ for ‘shepherd’. Perhaps it has survived because it appears in the King James version of the Bible - Matthew 16:2,3.
“He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

As far back as 1395 this appeared in the Wyclif Bible - “The eeuenynge maad, ye seien, It shal be cleer, for the heuene is lijk to reed; and the morwe, To day tempest, for heuen shyneth heuy, or sorwful.”
Then again Shakespeare used a similar concept in Venus and Adonis (1593) - “Like a red morn, that ever yet betoken'd wreck to the seaman - sorrow to shepherds.”
But the Isle of Lewis is one place where red sky in the morning is not a shepherd’s warning! All the good days this past week or so have started with wonderful red skies to the North East as the sun comes up over the headland at five in the morning.

This morning it was windy - but then it usually is - and by far the coldest morning since I got here. Definitely needed gloves to be outside taking photos at that hour of the morning.

I cheated at one stage and took a few photos from inside the study. It took my sluggish brain a few moments to realise that the strange phenomenon of a double sun coming over the horizon must presumably have been caused by the double glazing!

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