Nature Writing - Sunrise on the Stour
I struggle awake to the sound of many alarms, all set as a form of self punishment for being a deep sleeper. I turn them all off with minimal confusion and desperately trying to emulate how a "morning person" feels, I rise from my bed. Although it is January and cold out, I feel warm. The burner has stayed in all night and all I need to do is turn it up, add another log and put the kettle on it for my cup of tea that will prepare me for the day to come.
This done, I glance out of the window of my caravan. Good! I am in time! I slip on my boots and a coat and head outside into the cold, fresh air. Walking through my garden I notice the snow drops in flower, and that at last the fuchsias have lost all their leaves for the winter. It's been so mild this year that I thought the flowers would never stop for their winter sleep. I can feel the freshness in the air and know that the forecasts of snow in the next week or so will probably be true, a frost has settled on the ground and is crunching under my feet.
I open the gate, head out onto the river bank and gasp. The air is fresher here without the shelter of my fence. The river is at high tide and hardly flowing, so appears still and mirror like with a low mist rising from it and spilling onto the fields opposite. There are a few wispy clouds but it looks like it may be a nice day, although it really is too early to tell. I listen to the silence, aware that soon, as the sun awakes and rises on the horizon, the birds will start to call to each other, and there will be sounds from the nearby marina as people wake up.
I hear a noise, and turning, I see my dog, a terrior to keep the rats away, but home loving and soft, coming out to join me. Smiling at her I know now I probably won't be seeing the barn owl this morning, who often hunts silently over a nearby patch of scrub, swooping on unexpecting field mice for his breakfast. He stays away when my dog is around, she is far to noisy and excitable, still very puppy like although she is four years old now!
I look at the horizon and see it at last, the sun just peeping over the edge, changing the light and casting shadows, awakening the river. My heart fills with the energy the sun emits when she wakes and I breathe in deeply, trying to absorb as much of this beautiful scene as possible. It's never the same twice, each sunrise experience offering new patterns in the sky, different colours reflecting in the water, and new hope for a new day.
The first bird I hear is the high pitched call of the great tit, being one of the winter residents and a regular visitor to my garden, I have noticed over recent years they seem to have replaced the sparrow in numbers, and are much more frequently seen and heard alone and in flocks than the once all to common sparrow.
The ducks wake up and start quacking loudly, the dog, thinking herself clever, starts bouncing along the river bank hoping to scare them and flushing the moorhens out from their slumber, sending them splashing into the water. A rude awakening indeed for these birds but no harm done and I can't help but laugh.
The sun rises higher in the sky, too bright to look at directly and reminding me of the solar panel on the roof of my caravan, and the free power I'll gain if the clouds stay away. So powerful, giving us life and energy, as well providing me with electricity to light my home and allowing my son to watch Doctor Who! Everything seems to be making me smile this morning.
My shadow stretches out behind me as the sun climbs in the sky and the mist over the water disappears. I notice the tide is going out now, gaining in momentum and speed of flow, the water is in a dreadful rush to get back out to sea. The birds have started singing and I briefly long for spring, when the dawn chorus is deafening and sunrise warms my face as well as my heart. But there is beauty in all seasons and winter has the advantage of having the burner alight, a fire bug at heart, I enjoy the heat and energy that I use for cooking, and the wood I gather and chop that keeps me warm day and night.
Thinking about the burner I remember the kettle, probably boiling away to itself by now, and that I haven't had a cup of tea yet. It is almost time to wake the rest of my brood and get on with the day. I notice some activity as people start stirring on the marina and know that soon the dog walkers will come past, and comment as always on the weather and how cute my dog is! This is not why I got her but has been a happy addition to her skills of keeping the river rats out of my home and garden. I call her and start to head indoors, taking one last look in the direction of the sunrise, wondering why no-one else is ever around to see it, but glad at the same time that I experience it alone.
The robin clicks at me as I walk by, affronted by my presence and I assure him that I am not there to disturb him. The dog rushes past me and under the caravan to check for rats, good, that's her job! I head indoors and the kettle is indeed boiling. Time to get on then and wake the others. Energised and happy I make tea and prepare breakfasts, ready now for whatever the day may throw my way.