Winter dawn


(The picture is a sunset, not a sunrise. I am too busy to take pictures of sunrises).

Winter came. Snow came. Frost came. The dawns are marginally earlier, I can already tell, but still they come late. They come while I am outside, so I can observe the minute changes of light that play across the hoarfrost and the fallow fields and rags of leaves that still hang to hickory trees.

First it is blue; ghostly blue. It’s the time for finding animal footprints and scuffles in the snow. The sky is red but the shadows–blue. Deep. Cerulean.

I stop paying attention for a moment or two, and the light has turned red. Not pink, but really red. It lights up the tree trunks and the dead leaves, especially the dead oak leaves, which were ruddier than usual this year. It catches the scrub, but skips over the white of the landscape. The path ahead glows with rosy promise and then–

I blink and it has turned golden. This is the shortest, most delicate phase. There is a pink tinge to the gold, but it is also a pale gold, perfect for wheat stalks and dead grass. It is less magical than the red light that came before, but it is special because it is scarce. It feels like an interstitial time, a time that came before, a time in which I’m never quite comfortable in my skin. And then–

Another blink and sunrise is over. The sky is blank winter blue, the light is dull winter gray. Everything is ordinary. Magic gone, cold settled in, ice and burning-frozen fingers to be contended with until–

Far ahead of me, a lone coyote is running at breakneck speed for home. He isn’t hunting anything, he doesn’t look to either side, he’s just running–running–running, and I’m running home, too.

When the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen.

Stay warm, everybody.


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