Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Dawn Chorus

I awoke around 4am and knew I would not sleep again. The dim light of dawn crept in through the blinds at the window and I lay flat on my back to listen to the morning. The usual inexplicable taps, creeks and knocks of this old cottage were first to emerge. The quiet sound of my wife’s rhythmic breathing accentuated the warm comfort of the bed and I closed my eyes, pulling the covers up close to my face. Cocky the cockerel was in full cry from across the valley (I gave him that name when we first came here a year and a half ago) and I got up and moved to the window. Peering through the blind the morning looked overcast and damp. As I unlatched the window and opened it, just an inch, the beautiful sound of morning tumbled in.

The Dawn Chorus is a wonderful event here in the Yorkshire Dales; the daily song of countless birds as they call for mates and protect their territory provides a priceless pleasure. Sniffing the cool oxygen of morning awoke my senses and I returned to bed to listen, hoping the noisy birds would not wake my wife. I lay for a while imagining what the morning was like on the fells and hills that surround the village. The crows were the most vocal of all, nesting in the trees outside the cottage; their spooky calls causing me to snuggle deeper into my pillow.

The clock showed 4:44am and the thought of a morning in the hills enticed me out of bed. I dressed quickly, packed a small back pack, put on my boots and headed out. The village was deserted and as I reached the centre the church clock showed 5am; the Union flag atop the tower moving almost imperceptibly in the gentle breeze. Climbing gradually out the back of the village I reached the Common and started my ascent to the foothills of the mountain. The bridleway was steep and my breathing heavy but reaching the top of the first hill provided its reward. I looked back across the village. One or two street lamps were still lit but there was no sign of human life. The sky hung low and heavy over the valley promising rain and the distant hills in the west unfolded in shades of grey and green and faded into mist on the horizon. Looking towards the mountain the murderous crows drifted thick and black like a cape, caught by the breeze, rising and falling, tumbling and turning across landscape. I stood and let the morning wash over me, grateful for the simple pleasure of being alive in this moment.

I suddenly realised that countless sheep were standing looking at me, anticipating my next move. I started back down via a different route in the direction of the river and they scattered instinctively, panicked by a nonexistent danger. I walked through fields of buttercups, all closed now from the cool night and took care not to stand on the many snails along the path, each having their own pattern, size and colour. In the distance I could hear the river. The skies were lighter now with a hint of blue in the east. On reaching the river I followed it back into the village and as I entered I saw the paper boy on his morning round and said a ‘hello’ to a man leaving the village with his dog. The church clock announced 6am.

On reaching home I noticed that the crows in the trees had quietened and I settled down for a hot cup of tea and began writing this blog in the knowledge that I did not have to be at my desk and work for another three hours.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would love to hear your comments. Feel free to comment here..