Even on these deep black mornings, there is light. A luminous moon and burning Venus side by side as blackbirds trill in the dark. Evenings, and streetlights cast cones of swirling silver on the sky. Puddles become silver pools. Falling rain is glitter flickering on the road. Iron benches are splashed with liquid gold. It is rare that I experience true darkness in this town that I call home.
I have seen true darkness, when the sky is crowded with stars and soaring meteors; when fish light up the water with the luminescence of their passage. I have walked on the edge of the forest while the nightjar sang and only glow worms lighted the paths. But that is not here. Here the sky is obscured by reflected light, streetlights puddle in sickly orange or cold white. Still, there is a velvet to these mornings and evenings, when shadows bloom into darkness. Still, I can revel in the fertile dark.
I have a print on my wall by Peter Brook called ‘Lighting up time’. It shows a man and his dog on a snowy hill with the fire of a street lamp punctuating the monochrome. One of the delights of winter is when the lamps wink on and bring comfort to the dark. When light spills from houses and we wonder what might be going on within. When the streets are wreathed with lights and there is a Christmas tree in almost every window. This is the lighting up time of the year, when we ward off the darkness with a barrage of illumination.
The river is a blur of luminous colour: amber behind glass, cold white of floodlights, green and red warning beacons, the flash of the lighthouses. Lights that waver in the water like coloured streamers. I walk there in the dark on the morning after the solstice. I am here to celebrate the sun’s birthday on the dawn after the shortest day. From now on, though it doesn’t seem like it, it will only get lighter, the days will only get longer.
And at first it seems the birth will be muted: a brush of red below indigo clouds. It is low tide and the sea is just a whisper. Gulls congregate on the sandbanks and the air is all gull cry. But the birth of the sun does not disappoint. The sky blushes with colour. The river becomes stripes of lilac, the sea left behind on the sands is a lake of pink and orange and blue. Soon the dawn is molten colour. Just before sunrise I hear a loud creaking and an arrow of geese soars against orange wisps of cloud. I watch as they fly south, out of sight.
And then the sun is born, blazing orange. I feel its heat light me up, burnishing my face and warming my core. The beach behind is washed in gold and my shadow lengthens. The sun is now too bright to look at. Then, the Amsterdam ferry sails past, blocking out the sun. For a moment the day is revealed for what it is – grey and wintry. Afterwards, the day never quite regains the light of the sunrise. It seems darker than the dawn. But I felt the fire of the sun as it was born and that is enough to light up the winter to come.
I’m thrilled to share that Myrtle the Purple Turtle has a new adventure. Written by the talented Cynthia Reyes and her daughter Lauren Reyes-Grange, Myrtle’s Game continues the theme of difference and belonging begun by the first book. It is about other’s perceptions of what we can do just because of the way we look or who they think we are. It is about not being defined by those prejudices and about being who you are and excelling at it. This is a great book to read with a child to prepare them for their first visit to nursery school or their first group situation where they are trying to find their place. This story is about friendship, supporting one another and showing that we should never let what others’ think stop us from doing what we love. A lovely story that will really appeal to children and would make a great gift, both the print and e-book versions are now available on Amazon.