Greeting the dawn

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We slip out in the half-light of solstice morning and head for the sea.  It’s the beginning of the longest day and our purpose is to greet the sun as it rises.  We head for our island, our soul-place, to watch the dawn.  Already we can see that the sun is in hiding behind thick cloud and the signs are that it won’t be visible all day.  The clouds are blue-grey and pink-blushed.  A small slash in the clouds seeps orange light.  It’s chillier than it has been all this hot, humid week.  As the dawn progresses, we still don’t see the sun, but narrow shafts of light fall from sky to sea creating a luminous path across the water.

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Sunrise and low tide are within fifteen minutes of one another today.  This seems appropriate, for the solstice is the tipping point when the sun stands still for a moment in time, before the year begins to ebb and low tide is a point when the tide stands still just before it turns.  We create an image of the sun, using shells and kelp so that we’ll leave nothing permanent behind us.  It’s a transitory image that will be washed away by the next high tide.  An honouring of the sun at the height of its power, but also an acknowledgement that this power is transient and will soon begin to fade into shorter, colder days.  Alone on the beach, two women and a dog, we welcome the sun, thanking it for its light, which gives us life.

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The luscious spring is giving way to summer.  Spring has seemed limitless.  So much abundance of life, prompted by the warm weather and rainy start to the year.  The landscape is changing every week.  Right now, it’s the season of meadows.  There’s something blithe and joyful about meadows: slender, delicate flowers and feathery grasses blurring into a mass of colour and texture.  I smile as I walk along paths bordered by meadows.

Summer is bright, expansive and open, but it is also the season of tiny things.  Things that flit across our path so quickly we don’t know what they are.  Things that hide in the undergrowth and buzz among the leaves.  Creatures that have their own miniature beauty if we take the time to study them.

And it is the season of babies, emerging into the wondrous and perilous world.  The gull nesting across from my office is now guarding two fluffy chicks.  Baby starlings click and hiss in parks and on pavements.  And at the ponds, the ducklings have appeared.

It’s the season of empowerment, when we use the height of the sun’s energy to replenish and charge our batteries for the autumn that will come soon enough.  And a time when we turn outwards, to seek worldly success.  For me, it’s a season of unwinding.  Many of the writing goals I set myself are well on their way to being achieved.  And once my book went out to query and stories out for submission, it was like a natural stop.  This time for me is less about the ‘work’ of writing and more about fun and exploration.  So I’ve been taking a rest from fiction to blog and paint, which feels like the right way to re-charge my creative energies for the harvest to come.

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And like a glorious omen, our solstice morning ends with delight.  My novel, The skin of a selkie, is set on this island with seals featuring strongly in the story.  But although I know that they occasionally visit, in all the years I’ve come to this place I’ve never once seen a seal on the island.  Until, that is, this morning.  There, out on the rocks, half a dozen grey seals, at rest.  We watch them from a distance so as not to disturb them    To be here, on solstice morning and to see those seals with my book out there awaiting its fate, well, it feels like a gift just for us.

49 thoughts on “Greeting the dawn

  1. Such a wonderful, optimistic post, Andrea. The words and photos are a perfect match. How wonderful for you that the seals appeared. A good omen for sure!

    From my beach on the Pacific Ocean to yours, I wish you a playful, creative summer, a time of recharging, as you suggest, for the abundance to come.

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  2. As always…lovely! Really liked the “season of tiny things”. I will definitely be thinking of that today when we hike to catch all of those little beautiful things out there. Like you I’m excited to recharge this summer by taking a break from fiction as I wrap up my WIP. Looking forward to resting my brain a bit as I’m sure you are. : )

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  3. This really captures the profusion of everything at this time of year – wildflowers, plants in general, insects, new lives fluttering wide-eyed into the world at large. And I wish you the best of luck with your submissions, another new life going out into the world!

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    • Thanks Sara, I don’t know if I’ve just noticed more this year or nature is so much more abundant, but it’s been a glorious start to the year. And I’m heading off to the forest soon and taking Bone Jack with me to read 🙂

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  4. I think the seals are a sign for your novel, just like the ubiquitous lighthouses while I wrote my short story.
    Your writing is beautiful and I believe your query process will be successful, Andrea.
    Thanks for sharing your lovely photos!

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  5. “The season of tiny things”..I love that and I’ve been seeing them too!
    As always, such a a delightful post both in words and pictures. Those seals are definitely a sign. Animals are spirit guides, but that you already know 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful, rejuvenating and creative summer Andrea.

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  6. A beautiful post.
    Do you you, Andrea, a long time ago (when I was 19!) I got to swim with some seals in a sanctuary in Cornwall when I was on holiday? The people who owned the sanctuary said I could visit early in the morning, before the place was open to the public, and go into the pool with the seals to feed them. I still have the photos somewhere of me in my polka-dot bikini and a most unbecoming swimming hat, wading into the pool with a large bucket of fish as a peace offering before I actually swam with the seals. They were very playful and a bit nippy but no injuries done.

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  7. You know that I love nature and admire your writing style that blends natural elements to creativity. This post is especially beautiful, thanks to the photos that accompany your well-crafted piece. The captions are great too, as I learned the name of the meadow plants, familiar to my eyes but unknown to my dictionary.
    Sunrises and sunsets are a constant source of marvel for me. So thank you for sharing this in your post.
    You seem in a good position with your writing. I’m looking forward to reading you soon.

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  8. I love the lighthouse photo at the beginning especially Andrea, but all of your photos are so beautiful, added as they are to illustrate your wonderfully evocative and soulful narrative. I was carried along by your eye for the ‘tiny’ things (we went for a walk last weekend in the country and got assailed by those same tiny things, but I’m not complaining!), your thoughts about Summer Solstice and then, wham! The ending. Oh Andrea, I have to say, I really felt that you seeing your seals, at this moment in time, has to be a sign, a good sign, doesn’t it? You deserve it and I, along with everyone else, anxiously await your news. But so good that in the meantime you are taking this time out to unwind and enjoy all that is unfolding before you! 🙂

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    • Thanks for those lovely comments Sherri. I’ve been to the woods this week and returned with around 30 midge bites, so I wasn’t quite appreciating those tiny things! Still, it’s all part of being out there enjoying nature…You said it Sherri, it has to be a sign 🙂

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  9. I’ve barely had time to catch my breath so far this summer, so it was wonderful to slow down and share in your solstice sojourn. Those seals are surely a good omen. My husband and I had a great week visiting with family, but the work piled up while we were gone. I’m afraid much of my summer will be spent in front of a computer—but too little of it with the WIP!

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  10. I definitely feel privileged to have been able to watch the seasonal transitions taking place on this blog in such loving detail. I like the idea of explicitly celebrating impermanence as you did on the beach — after, I suppose everything is ultimately a celebration of something impermanent, whether it seems that way to the celebrator or not.

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  11. What a wonderful morning you had! I’m happy for the seals; and I love all your attention to the small details. I, too, find the little insects of a place fascinating. So much life, everywhere!

    And I love that yours is a leave-no-trace sunburst.

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  12. This is a lovely post, Miss Andrea. You took me along with you on a cool summer day, which I needed. It’s nothing but 90’s with high humidity for the next three months or more by me. Your photos were awesome. Did you take all of those with the insects, too? Your words soothed me as I went along with you. How cool that you saw those seals and were able to capture them and share it here.

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    • Thanks Lori – I’m glad I don’t have to deal with heat like that – the humidity we had for a couple of weeks was enough for me. Yes, I took all the photos – just a normal camera catches them all, which is great.

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