At three, I start to turn in bed, suspended somewhere between actual sleep and wakefulness. The birds are announcing the birth of a new day, and I lie there, listening to the blackbird’s warbling, the monotone double-cheep of the resident blue tits, and I’m not sure if I am irritated or overjoyed at being woken thus. Overjoyed, I think. All that birdsong is a confirmation of life, of coming days filled with warmth and light.
At four, it is light enough for me to read in bed – should I want to. Light streams in through our uncovered windows – I refuse to curtain off the returning sun – as yet the soft light of dawn, untinged by the rising sun. Through the window I can see the chestnut just outside take form, recovering shape and colour as night wanes and day approaches. It is preparing to flower, and the future catkins stand like miniature double-toothed combs against the lightening skies.
Half an hour later, and the night fog starts to dissipate. Veils of condensed water float just metres above the glassy surface of the lake, rise off the damp ground in ethereal strands that dip and swirl.
The meadow that slopes towards the lake is dotted with dark green stands of lupines, as yet only leaves. The night has been cold, and everything glitters with frost. When an inquisitive thrush comes hoping over the grass, she leaves tracks behind – tracks that evaporate as quickly as the frost does.
There is a moment of silence, as if all the birds draw in huge gulps of breath, their eyes fixed on the eastern horizon. At 4:52, the sun clears the forest fringe. The lake looks as if dipped in gold, the birds break out in chorus, and I am overwhelmed by a desire to go outside, raise my arms to the skies and welcome this our oldest deity with a song of my own.
I don’t. Instead, I return to bed, close my eyes and smile at the warmth of the sun-beam on my uncovered leg. The sun has risen yet again. A daily miracle, if you ask me.