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Thursday, October 7, 2010
First Light nights
‘First Light’ always fascinated me as a concept. It’s the time when you know that a new day will follow the night you’ve just had. It’s not dawn; it’s well before that. But it’s there, almost palpable; but never a time you can pinpoint on a clock.
It's the time when young soldiers in the trenches looked upwards at the stars and knew that they might meet their destiny within the hour. Anyone who has no choice but to get up very early will know what it’s like. The stars are still in the sky, though just starting to twinkle out, one by one. Or millions by millions, have it your own way.
It’s the time, years ago, I used to put on a pair of cross trainers and start my run. I lived 10 km out of town and the bitumen roads were totally empty, except for some occasional stray soul who should be in bed driving somewhere or other. Car headlights seemed such an intrusion on my semi-lit world, with eucalypts silhouetted by the purple blackness against a moving river of brilliant stars.
It was a beautiful time to run, as the sky got lighter and lighter. Six kilometres along the tarred road, loping along at a gentle pace, then turning around at a set point and retracing the journey as the sun came up... magical.
I have First Light nights very often now, only I am lying in bed watching for that glimmer of change in the blackness. This is the time my thoughts flow so fast and freely that I want to capture them before they disappear. Of course, the fact that they flit through consciousness and concertina together makes them seem more perfect that they could have been, as all that’s left of them, if I’m lucky, are a few keywords - hooks to try to hang the thoughts on later.
Often I get up, when first light has well and truly passed but dawn is still a way off. Today I write down some words, rudely scattered now by having had to focus on walking the few steps to the bathroom, evaluating the strength of the pain in my leg and the new sensation of tightness in the swollen calf muscle, and the maddening itch from the allergic reaction to the Clexane injections…. But some words are there, and I will write about ‘postcard’ letters, and the dance where at 18 I showed I was an utter nincompoop, and the approaching end of Jane’s fight with life, doctors and euthanasia, and the Saturday night rituals at the Diggers Arms half a century ago.I’ll get to them. They won’t come out so well as in my First Light state, but I have the luxury of not having to prove that!
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