First Light

I awaken as if on the wings of birdsong, from dreams woven upon singing water. I’m in my little round hut deep in a Welsh wood. It is dawn. The chorus of this early spring day fills the glade in which my hut is nestled, quietly, beside a mossy stream, mingling with the water’s music pouring through my strung-open blanket-door.

I roll over and gaze out of a window looking North-East. Darkness lightens, stars fade. Laced branches silhouette against the great brightening sky. Shadowy boles emerge as distinct shapes and presences. A thick carpet of black shadow sinks to the woodland floor then fragments into separate pools before dispersing into ever-lightening greys. Finally, colours appear and grow clearer. Night becomes day. I love the dawn.

The pervious evening I’d watched this exact process in reverse. I was sitting out under an oak in the tangly woods, watching changes, courting silence. Otter-soft and raven-fey, dusk gently stole and grew around me, imperceptibly deepening to dissolve all contours. When the darkening was complete stars sparkled silver-white between invisible branches. I sat, awash with peace, felt the Earth turning through space. Eternities later a fat moon rose in the East and by her cool light I wandered slowly home to the warm embers of a wood-fire and a stew still hot beside them in its cast-iron pot.

Yes, I love the transition times of dawn and dusk. I am a student of the vastness and total implacability of their unfolding. I find it deeply compelling the way their gradual, imperceptible shifts add up to such radical reversals. 

Again this morning I look for the precise, infinitesimal moment when the shadowy greys are replaced by distinct colours, the greens and browns our woods wear so well. Once again it eludes me.

Rising, stepping outside, I pad naked to the small fall in the stream and splash my face and body with its tumbling silver-black water, gasping slightly with the cold. Taking the stone goblet from its place beside the fall and filling it first with soft light and then liquid, I say a brief wordless prayer, slowly drinking down the clear living water. I drink in small sips, holding each one in my mouth to warm it before swallowing, otherwise it chills the stomach, bringing lethargy. This way it cools only the head, bringing clarity. Fire in the belly, moonlight in the mind, honey in the heart—an old bardic saying, wisdom distilled.

I crouch there as the daylight strengthens, my cold skin tingling. The soft aura of the sun crests the horizon—prescient, serene. As the golden orb itself rises visible between the tree-trunks a song rises to my lips, joining the symphony all around. It’s a song of wonder, a song of joy, a song inherent to this miracle of morning light.

Pierced by a gratitude as sharp as grief, at once humbled and ennobled the vast beauty of the Earth and sky, tears fill my eyes and overspill, falling into the dancing stream, carried on towards the sea.