That glorious mix of chilly air and clear, bright skies? There’s a word for that

Yesterday I went for a walk with a friend, AKA the only government-mandated social activity at that moment (truly, what a time to be alive!). It was cold, but the sun had lingered, and there existed that glorious mix of chilly air and clear, bright skies. Just as the air shifted from cool to sharp, and began to nip at my cheeks, turning them pink and slightly uncomfortable, we would emerge from a copse of trees into the warmth of sunshine unimpeded by cloud.

Thanks to Susie Dent, lexicographer and etymologist (wonderful words in themselves), as well as our greatest political commentator by means of her deliciously shady words of the day on Twitter (“throttlebottom: a bumbling, inept individual in public office”), I now know a word for this sensation: apricity. As Dent says, it is a word to savour.

Contrast is what makes life sing; all of the differing sensations and experiences and relationships. There is not enough time to visit all the places in the world one wants to visit; there are too many books in the world to read; and masses of brilliant people you will never meet. What I love about apricity is that it feels a little like cheating. It’s a combined impact on the senses that is a treat. Water on a hot body after swimming on a summer’s day is similarly happy-making. It is two flavours at once; one perfectly complementing the other.

Today the weather is the same as it was yesterday, the sun streaming in through the sitting room windows. The knowledge that stepping out the front door will bring a satisfying burst of fresh energy (may I also recommend mint shower gel for a similar effect?) is making me sure I will do a lap of the park in a few hours.

The one negative side-effect of apricity is the uncertainty around dressing. The jacket comes off in the sun; on in the shade. Gloves, hat, ditto. A rucksack is needed if you don’t want to end up weighed down like a parent on the sidelines of a sports pitch, holding all of their child’s personal effects. You want to be able to move freely; gloved hands swinging merrily, pretending it is Christmas, while your face acts like it’s on holiday. Go forth, and revel in the weather. Susie Dent would approve.