Igniting

December is the month of artificial light, when our townscapes gleam with the cold twinkle of illumination to ward off the darkness.  Teardrops of amber.  Scrolls of silver.  Cascades of gold.  White garlands and pinpricks of pewter.  Kaleidoscopes of lights.  On the high street it is often too much:  too gaudy, too synthetic.  But on silent streets and in deserted parks, they are islands of light to guide us through the night.  Windows flooded with colour welcome us home, so that we can turn our backs on the discomforts of the darkness.

December skies are flushed with colour.  Dawns of orange and purple; twilights of pink and blue; a half moon lighting up the darkness.  Stripes of wavery tangerine cross pale peach.  Fingers of pink span baby blue.  A full moon hangs in a blushing sky.  Perhaps nature is trying to rival the pull of electricity.  Artificial light is pretty, comforting and useful, but it will never equal the display of a sunset or a sunrise.

On election day, we vote before dawn.  Afterwards, before work, I walk in the country park.  It is dark, barely light enough to see.  There is no colour yet, only shades and shadows.  Trees creak, undergrowth rustles.  A blackbird trumpets in alarm and I hear the distant chink of a moorhen.  Ducks descend on the pond, first a pair, then a quintet, mallards in silhouette.  They cackle as I walk the path to the sundial.

The coming sunrise inflames the trees, glowing through skeletons.  The temperature is two degrees above freezing with a biting wind: it is bitter up here at the top of the hill.  Coloured twinkles in the distance, the hills chains of artificial light.  Sunrise begins as a vivid orange splash, brighter than any of those electric lights, but it soon becomes more nuanced.  I won’t see the sun all day, but it puts on its show from behind the clouds.  Violets and pinks, oranges and reds, blushes and blooms of colour.  The sea is a violet stripe prickled with platinum.   The sunrise pushes back the electric lights until they disappear.

Crows appear, swooping and cawing.  Next, the gulls begin to call.  Finally the muted voices of songbirds and the stutter of magpies.  The sky lightens to a block of grey-blue cloud with a strip of buttermilk across the horizon.  The park regains colour.  There is a sprinkling of autumn leaves and berries, but most of the autumn colour has leached from the landscape.  A charm of goldfinches flutters from a tree as I pass, leaving a lone dunnock behind.  I have seen the blaze of dawn but now daylight comes quietly.

It has been a speedy and subtle season.  I have hardly noticed the darkness.  As the glory of the leaves faded, the skies blossomed.  Autumn is gone and winter is gaining, but there is little fanfare.  Election day passes more quietly than I expect.  It seemed like an important day, with an opportunity for real change, but ends up as more of the same.  The creative spark is sleeping.  I’ve felt weary and in need of a break.  Soon the solstice will be here, when the light will ignite once more.  And my break is finally here, a stretch of gloriously leisurely days that will lead me to the light, sky by painted sky.

102 thoughts on “Igniting

  1. Glorious pictures despite a vainglorious election. It’s no better on this side of the pond. May the soltice ignite light and joy for you as winter slowly slugs through its endless cold and damp. I look forward to the first winter jasmine blossoms in January of February.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post is an audio-visual treat. You paint with your words, and write the symphony of nature equally well. Those beautiful pictures add to the pleasure of reading. What is striking is the fusion of colours with your state of mind. Symbolism runs deep. The conclusion is so promising!

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  3. You’ve caught some wonderful skies, and they have been both subtle and magnificent by turns. But oh, for the return of light mornings. It hardly seems worth opening the curtains at the moment… just to let in the cold.
    May I wish you a peaceful Solstice, our time to meditate upon the past and the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, what a beautiful description that walked me along your side, seeing through your eyes,and feeling through your senses Andrea.
    Your narrative holding every bit of the light and illumination your beautiful photos gave us.
    Thank you for this delightful morning read. 😁💚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful, Andrea. I too, love the colours of a December dawn and also the sounds as the world awakes in darkness before the coming of the dawn light. Wishing you a restful solstice and festive season as the light returns.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Andrea, I feel as if I walked with you on this dawn walk. Reflections on light
    so sensitive and true. Electrical lights, tastefully done, are wonderful in winter. However, the light from the sky makes the electrics shy away.
    I have candle light at breakfast – along with light of dawn.

    Thank you for this wonderful walk.

    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am humbled by your talent…truly!

    Yesterday I could not wake up. I could not summon the energy necessary to tackle any task. Winter has its grip on me, and I need to break free of it. It would be much too easy to curl up under the blankets and wait for spring to arrive. 🙂

    Have a marvelous week, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Bill, I’m sorry to hear you felt like that yesterday. I have those days and winter is sometimes hard to get through. It would be easy to curl up, but when you go out and meet it, winter does have a way of scouring your clean no matter how bitter it is! (I know how easy it is to say that as opposed to doing it some days…)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I know what you mean by the artificial light. I’ve been counting the days to the solstice, and then I’ll be counting again until it makes a difference with the sunlight. I remember feeling the same about the artificial air from air conditioning units in Florida and missed breathing in the refreshing crispness of autumn. I’ve got plenty of that now, but looking forward to more sunshine.

    Fantastic photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Even though my sight is somewhat impeded by darkness since my stroke, I still enjoy the city lights at night and the moon and stars when I can see them.
    My Mom used to enjoy the lights and all, but now with Glaucoma and advancing age, she gets nervous and just doesn’t care much for night/darkness anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love your descriptions of the dawn sky – so accurate. Really enjoy your posts – your words paint so many pictures – the violets, the splashes of colour, the necklace of artificial light all burning and signalling hope but then the election results give us more of the same!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The artificial cheery lights are pretty, but they sometimes seem filled with the desperation of this season of masks. A sublime wander with you through the darkness, Andrea. Thank you. Wishing you a glorious solstice/yule.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your writing is like atmospheric, ethereal music for the eyes, Andrea! If you can believe it, I reconnect to nature through reading your posts (and seeing your images). I’m also happy to say that I used to view crows with a bit of suspicion (not ever unkindness or cruelty, just a sort of culturally imposed negativity), but now I love them. I caw to them whenever convenient, trying to not looking like a crazy bird lady in the process. Anyhow, happy pre-Solstice and happy Christmas! Hope you and the family are all warm and well. Judging by your writing ^^^, I’d say yes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Leigh. Crows can seem cruel but they have to eat too and they’re very intelligent. I think perhaps it’s the figure of me and the dog they recognise because when my wife took the dog to the park without any crow treats she got a very big scolding from them! Happy holidays to you all too!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. There have been some stunning sun rises and sunsets during the past couple of weeks. Your photos are gorgeous and your word painting is as lovely as ever, Andrea. I have been so busy I hadn’t realised until today that we are so close to the solstice! I am pleased you have had an easy winter so far; may the rest of the cold and dark weeks be as easy for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You have got me meditating on light: artificial and natural. Some artificial light is very festive. But too much or for too long is a real menace to our health (especially those of us with light-related disorders, but I can’t believe it’s good for anyone). That said, I got my mother a light therapy lamp as a Christmas present because she lives in a city that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, especially in the winter, and she suffers from a bit of depression. You have to keep your eyes open for the light to work. It functions through the eyes. I find that fascinating. The eyes are like a portal for the lights to enter.

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  15. I can HEAR the scene, the blushing sky, the cawing crows, the creaking trees. You have immersed me in the darkness of the fading light. I also savor the idea of a short break, waiting for the painted sky. Happy Holidays, Andrea. You again have touched me with your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Beautiful meditation on light, Andrea. I was thinking similar thoughts earlier when I plugged in our Christmas porch lights. Do we really need more artificial light pollution? No, but, I need this light in this dark season. It’s only a short time. I’m sorry the election produced more of the same. I fear that here, too. I hope and pray I’m wrong.
    Solstice Blessings,
    Cheryl

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hello, Andrea. That read was the nicest description of Natures Revallie that I have ever read. You’ve captured that short-lived, intimate moment at its purest point (bookend A) before being rolled over and swallowed up by the snowball of the day and sent towards bookend B. Now, how fast that snowball rolls depends on how level one’s bookshelves are. Yours, Andrea, seem pretty level; but some folk have got B+Q bookshelves…
    I would like to thank you for the tremendous lift you gave me by sharing my story on your blog. After my short illness, I now have the strength to follow your example and reply to the kind folk who commented or liked my post. I’m not usually bigheaded by nature, but after receiving such an accolade, I’m having trouble getting through doorways. I’ll have to rub some lard on my ears.
    Happy New Year to you and your family Andrea. Take care.

    Mick.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mick, it was a lovely still point in the day before work began! You’re very welcome about the share – I thought the story deserved to be shared especially just in time for Christmas! Glad you’re feeling better, we’ve had flu for Christmas at this end, but feeling better now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I so enjoyed the rhythm of your words and the celebration of winter light here, Andrea. As you say, it’s nice to have the artificial lights illuminating our way, but there’s nothing so rich and colorful as the natural sky. Also enjoyed the descriptions of the sounds–chink of moorhen, creaking trees–and the birds who greeted you on the path. Thanks so much for this lovely narrative.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Andrea, I am deeply touched by your beautiful post. So softly, calmly and poetically we follow you on your walk. Sharing your thoughts. Seeing the wondrous lights.
    Soon you will have that break and I know the feeling of fatigue this time of the year. The longing for sun.

    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I loved this post and I loved the comments it inspired, too. I tend to be a night owl, but may put myself to bed early for a while so that i, too, can savor a few dawns… This is my favorite sentence from your description: “They are islands of light to guide us through the night.” May each of us be islands of light for each other as we make our way through the dark — and the light — of 2020!

    Like

  21. Love this Andrea. The winter skies are so beautiful, especially at dawn and dusk. And electric lights in the house can blind us to the beauty of the sky (the night sky too). Bright lights keep us indoors and make the day seem shorter; the outside seems too dark by comparison.

    Like

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