Friday, October 9, 2009

Project Dawn: October 7 (back-dated)

October 7

Sunrise: 7:28 am

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Days till Thomas More Arrives: 53

Sunlight wanes here in the Kingdom of Fife, and I, who have been long preparing myself for these quickly shortening days, am already feeling the effects of winter darkness. Gone the balmy North Carolina autumn, which lasts...pretty much until Christmas, with its apple picking and its warm sun tinged with the scent of fire and frost (nostalgia/melodrama alert!). Autumn was here to meet me when I landed in London four weeks ago, with its Fall from the ocean, the North Sea, the Dreel Burn with its flocks of gulls, down Bruce Wynd in Pittenweem, past tidal caves and hillside lichen, through the distressed limbs of the leafless, wind-pulled beeches that I see along the road to St Andrews. Dawn comes late; dusk, early. The angle of "solar noon" is narrow.

Considering the picturesque yet at times oppressively short days, I have been very intentional about being outside as much as possible. My goal: to Seize the Day! With this goal in mind I propose a project, let us call it "Project Dawn." To complete this project, I will rise every morning (more or less) to record the Birth of the New Day with my trusty camera, then post these pictures on blog. This project will serve several purposes:

1. Get me out of bed. (Remember, fair reader, that I have been cloistered in some hall of Academe for the past 7+ years. I hold to the practice of the English Major, and English Majors do not rise before dawn. Tis a cursedly early seminar that meets before 10:00 AM. ...I know that there are some exceptions to this rule (Mr. Wonderful soon to be Dr. Wonderful is up before 6 most morning, I have heard!) but most of us are not human before 11. Thankfully for my tender non-morning personality's sake, dawn is not so very early here in Fife. Today the sun rose at 7:32...and by the time the Winter Solstice arrives, he won't show his face until around 8:40 (!).)

2. Serve as a Countdown to a.) Thomas More's arrival in Scotland on the 29th of November (!) and b.) the first Sunday of Advent (which is my favorite season) which is ALSO the 29th of November.

3. Record any interesting holy days on the Church calendar (saints days, feasts, holy days of obligation (ahem!), etc.).

4. Visually record the changing face of the sea in all manners of light and weather. This may sound melodramatic. Well, fine. It is difficult for this landlubber from land-hemmed Kansas to explain how strange and powerful the constant presence of the ocean can be. I am continuously intrigued by how the water changes and changes and changes. Every day, every hour a new world: color, mood, movement. Sometimes as clear as a telescope. Sometimes sloppy and mudtone. Sometimes almost invisible in fog. Sometimes white ribbons. Sometimes full of weeds. Sometimes covered in birds. Sometimes soaking spaniels and coming into the house with sand. Sometimes out with the tide. So I will try to record some of these changes, the Firth's relationship with the sky, with the town, the weather.

This project will be difficult for my weak-willed self. And I haven't gotten off to the best start. Today's post is not even on today's dawn (which I slept through), but on the dawn of the 7th. And it's not even REALLY the dawn of the 7th... Arriving in my favorite churchyard on the morning in question, camera in hand, full of excitement, I waited for the sun to rise. And I waited. And waited. Finally I got cold and went home, baffled by the tardiness of natural forces which shouldn't be so fickle and shy (scientists tell me). I looked at the clock in the kitchen: 6:35. An hour early.

I offer the picture to you nonetheless. Perhaps the predawn beauty is more striking that the dawn?

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