After a couple of hours snoozing while I work on the guided journeys for the School, a soggy tennis ball begins to appear on my lap with alarming regularity. This inevitably signals the approach of dawn and time for a walk. Ani has her methods and this one is particularly effective. She eats while I dress and as the first hint of light creeps into the cold, starlit sky we leave the house.
Breathing like dragons, twin plumes of steam in the frosty air we hit the grass running… she is always eager to be out and those first few minutes she has the horsepower of a Jaguar. The grass seems to snap and crunch beneath my feet, though Ani runs light as the wind across the icy green.
As we reach the entrance to the first field it is apparent there will be no mud today…everything is frozen solid. The ground, for so long a morass, feels unfamiliar underfoot and the air is crisp and white. I unleash the whirlwind and any hopes I might have of a decent photograph of Ani in her element are dashed as she disappears into the edge of vision, black against the shadows.
She keeps an eye on me, just to make sure I am there… but she will roam as far as sight allows, chasing mist wraiths and rousing sleepy pheasants. I try to keep moving, it is bitterly cold this morning, yet incredibly beautiful. The clarity of the star-filled night has given way to a lucent morning. Beauty stops me in my tracks, frozen fingers forgotten in the silent, silvery world.
I have the camera today, as it isn’t raining. It is impossible to capture the shifting luminescence, the sky, vivid as the black opals I love, cycling through every conceivable shade, changing moment by moment. It is times like this when I wish I was a photographer, understanding more of the technical side… yet would I want to waste this moment fiddling with settings? No…probably not… it is a moment to live in, not look at.
We walk on, through the woods and farm, climbing the hill I forget is a hill… tamed fields and hedgerows seem to chain its wild heart, domesticated earth, in bondage to need, something of its essence buried deep beneath the imposed furrows of its surface. I feel a kinship with this place as the sun kisses the horizon… Our surface chained to the needs of the world, yet the veneer is thin and the true heart is alive, beating with the cadence of a passionate freedom bound by necessity to a form not its own.
The clouds glide across the silken sky, taking the form of a boat… the Sun Boat of Ra, called Millions of Years. Some fragment of me sits there and sails the dawn with the gods. A flash of dark speed dives into the undergrowth and startles a hawk from its place in the trees. The heavy beat of its wings sounds loud in the stillness, then it is in flight, its keening call filling the silence, marrying heaven and earth somehow, as the flame of morning is reflected in the heart of the ice. It is entirely appropriate this morning.
There is a nameless yearning within me, poised on the cusp of grief and joy in the perfection of the morning. A gladness that I am alive, now, able to live this moment, savour it, feel it in every fibre of my being. Sadness that this, as all moments, must pass into memory. I do not want to go back to the cold, empty house and the daily struggle for survival… the gypsy in my soul craves a couch beneath the stars, yet life and responsibility do not permit all dreams to come into being in the way we choose and the passing of every moment is part of living. The yearning will remain, twin poles of emotion that hold me poised at their heart. There will be another dawn.