“I can’t remember ever actually watching a dawn,” said my son in a plaintive little voice. He had been looking at some of my dawn photos, taken that morning from my doorstep. He has seen plenty of dawns… but most of them have been urban affairs, hours later than mine, when the light has cleared the rooftops and chimneypots of the town. Not proper dawns.
He has also, to my sure and certain knowledge, seen rural dawns too… but, because of the faulty memory caused by the brain injury he suffered some years ago, it is quite possible that he really does not remember them.
Busy, unthinking and caught on the hook of that wistful tone, I suggested that if he wasn’t such a lazy toad and got out of bed early enough, I could come down earlier, pick him up and drive him out somewhere to watch the dawn one day.
No more was said about it… until the night before the clocks went back. The day when getting up earlier would mean quite a lot earlier… It was then that he decided to call.
“Can we go and see the sun come up tomorrow?” I groaned, blessed the forecast clouds and put him off until the day after.
Which is why we were leaning on a field gate, freezing our extremities in the pitch black the other morning. Or rather, he was. I had joined him to watch the first streaks of gold set fire to the horizon, watched as the glow spread across the sky…then, knowing it would be another hour before the sun actually crested the hills, I retired to the car to thaw a little.
We had picked a good day for watching a dawn. The sky was cloudless, the air clear and cold, but in the valley, between the low hills and trees, mist blanketed the ground, catching the shifting colours in its softness. My son watched the sunrise and I watched him, knowing the wonder that always comes when you are alone and faced with such beauty.
As the light grew, I joined him again. We watched the stars go out, one by one, drowned by the glow. We saw the frost cover the fields, heard the first birds wake and watched them take to the skies. It was beautiful…but bitterly cold. The Chiltern hills to the east of us would delay the sunrise a good while longer.
Now, I live just a few minutes from where we were watching the dawn. And there is a kettle and coffee , an east facing window and heating… We retreated and sought warmth, much to the delight of the small dog who got to see another of her boys quite unexpectedly. So we finally saw the sun come up across my garden. Sometimes, you have to make the journey before you realise that what you sought was there all the time, right on your own back doorstep.
The small dog, unhappy at missing her early walk but ecstatic at having her boy for breakfast, was not about to let him disappear too soon and set about guarding the front door. She watches the dawn every day and has no doubt that the sun will rise. Her boys, on the other hand, do not appear nearly often enough for her liking and some things, when you have them, should be looked after….and not allowed to slip away…*
*Or at least not without them being made to feel really, really guilty about it….