Rising

It is 5am on May Day morning and we leave the house to a blackbird chorus. First light has lightened the landscape but the sun hasn’t yet risen. We drive through empty streets, stopping at traffic lights for non-existent cars. Gulls and pigeons flock on the roads, slow to move as we approach. This is their time and we are invaders in it.

The sky is a blank canvas, tinged pale blue and yellow. A three-quarter moon wanes in the west. The clouds huddle on the horizon in peculiar shapes, like deformed giants coloured in angry blue and pink. Over by the priory, a massive mushroom cloud hints at distant rain. Opposite that, above cliffs and wind turbines, a blurred hulk that looks like a brush swirled in water. And in the centre, a wide bow contains the sun.

I’ve avoided the coast as others flocked towards it, but now I surrender. On this magical day, I come pursuing the watery dream of peace I had on the eve of the equinox. The first thing is the roar of the sea. It is the bass note for the haunted cries of gulls and the bicker of starlings. It is a writhing mass of metallic blue, with molten waves surging to the shore. The lighthouses flash and waves break over the piers. It will be high tide in an hour or so and the sea is in motion.

Soon, a vivid smudge of orange appears beneath the cloud-mountain. It brightens, becomes bigger, seeps outwards until the horizon is an orange stripe. The sky around it becomes pinker, lilac. We walk down the ramp to the beach, crossing the sand towards the sea. There are a few other people here to witness the sunrise. We wait, watching as the sun makes its way imperceptibly up through the clouds. Shortly, the tops of the clouds are gilded, until finally the sun breaks free, a molten mass of gold, spilling slanted rays and creating a golden path from sea to shore. Watching the sunrise teaches patience. The sun doesn’t hurry; it does what it is supposed to do and takes its time doing it.

May Day is traditionally a time to celebrate fertility. The land flourishes with the signs of new life and we celebrate sensuality, passion and creativity. Lately, I’ve been filling my head with women: strong women, talented women, creative women. Writers. Artists. Singers. Activists. Women whose lives as well as their art have inspired me. If I peer hard, I can see them, dancing around the Beltane fire, some long gone, some still very much with us. I thank them for the richness of their language, the strength of their dreams, their many examples of creativity. I thank them for what they leave behind – not only their creations, but their company.

It wouldn’t be May Day without blossom and though the hawthorn is yet to show, our path is festooned with trees in full bloom. We are followed from the sea by golden light. Frost on the grass sparkles in its illumination. We stood at the edge of the shore and watched this sun be born. Now the day is ours and who knows what we might create?

94 thoughts on “Rising

  1. This was wonderful. I wanted to do something for Beltane but never got past the thought. Thanks for writing this so I can enjoy the fruits of your labor since I labored not. To strong woman everywhere, which counts you among their number.

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  2. Andrea, what spectacular photos! Your descriptions are soul-stirring, and between the two I just want to watch that sun rise, too. You have certainly done justice to the May Day spirit of creativity, to the inspired and inspiring women who have come and gone and those who remain with us. Thank you.

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  3. What a beautiful celebration of the days birth. Renewed hope. The last few days of spring enjoyed. Your writing doesn’t need pictures but they do complement each other perfectly. Looking forward to Summer in a few days time.

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  4. What a wonderful way to celebrate May Day Andrea. Your words capture my attention and bring me along on your walks and journeys. I’m glad you can celebrate strong and talented women in your life and maybe include yourself.

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  5. Thanks to your vivid descriptions, I am there. I feel the cool breeze that fans one’s face before the sun comes up; I feel the stillness – and love your thought of invading the time of the birds. Here, I am always awake before the sun and revel in the grey light turning to gold; listening to the first tentative sounds of the smaller birds until all peace is torn assunder by the loud raucous calls of the Hadeda Ibises half an hour before the sun peeps over the hills. I love what the day means to you – from reaching into the past to the present. A beauteous read before our sunrise!

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  6. These lines in particular resonate: “We stood at the edge of the shore and watched this sun be born. Now the day is ours and who knows what we might create?” It’s how we should greet each new day, with wonder and gratitude.

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  7. Love the blues in your photos and the “bass note” that you write about. We are now allowed to travel further so a visit to the coast is planned soon! (Strong wind and rain since the easing of travel restrictions; early morning frosts also).

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  8. Thank you Andrea for such a wonderful return to a May Day reflection devoid of Workers and marchers and strident posturing. You and your readers celebrate the Day for what it always has been.

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  9. Andrea, thank you for sharing this breathtaking moment! I felt a sense of awakening within me as I read your wondrous description of watching the dawn by the sea, feeling the strength of all women, the responsibility of us all to not let our creativity flounder, rather giving it voice and power! An inspirational and beautiful post.

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  10. Your words capture the magic of the dawning of the new day of Beltane… Loved all of your spectacular images Andrea… May Day is special to me also… it was the day I decided to visit Earth…. 😉 And my day was also a very special one to remember….
    Loved each and every photo Andrea… May we all keep rising…. ❤

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  11. Beautiful dawn photos. I live in North Queensland and we have spectacular dawn & evenings up here (or down here!). Must submit some and see what everyone thinks (sorry very difficult to come here to Oz at the moment so will have to wait until this dreadful virus has been dealt with). There have been some amazingly talented women as you say – and without being overly feminist which I don’t think does our women’s cause any good.

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  12. A post of hope and positivity. The spirit of Beltane in the breaking waves, the blossom, the first rays, the chorus of blackbirds, and the endless possibilities of new beginnings. Thank you.

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  13. .“It is the bass note for the haunted cries of gulls”…
    …“a writhing mass of metallic blue, with molten waves surging to the shore”.
    …“a molten mass of gold, spilling slanted rays and creating a golden path”…
    You did it again, those poetic lines blue my mind and opened up new perceptive dimensions.

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  14. I too have been reconnecting with strong women – all those who have come before blazing a trail through stormy skies to lead the way for the rest of us. Recent events have made me realise we still have a fight on our hands. May – a time of fertility and rebirth – is the perfect time to celebrate women and being a woman. Beautiful words, Andrea.

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  15. Oh, Andrea! What words! What photos! A complete uplift for the soul.
    I equally get excited about May Day. It is just thrilling in every way. I did a card reading video about what was going to flourish in ourselves this coming year.
    I can clearly see what is flourishing in you and that is your amazing creativity.
    Thank you. xxx

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  16. That orange! That is really something and looks so different where it is located, but I suppose it’s that way because of the clouds?
    Yes, definitely gorge yourself on women artists and their arts of all kinds!!!!!

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  17. I very much enjoyed this sensuous salute to the earth, her seasonal changes, and the strong women in our world, past and present. Also enjoyed the title and the uplifting ending for the women of our future. This was admirably written and accompanied with lovely photos, Andrea, thank you. And cheers!

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