...is that it's so effortlessly portable, without a laptop's weight or limited battery life. That's essential for a writer like me whose best ideas tend to come at dawn, and who can often be found at that potent hour on a favorite rock in a favorite circle of trees in the woods behind my studio...
...with a cup of coffee, a book, a pen, and a fresh notebook (or two, or three). Tilly sits beside me, reading the scents of the forest as I read and scribble in my clumsier human fashion. Soon the sun finds us, climbing over the trees, the old stone wall, and the hills beyond.
"The dawn," notes John O'Donohue (in Anam Cara), "is a time of possibility and promise. All the elements of nature: stones, fields, rivers and animals are suddenly there anew in the fresh dawn light. Just as darkness brings rest and release, so the dawn brings awakening and renewal. In our mediocrity and distraction, we forget that we are privileged to live in a wondrous universe. Each day the dawn unveils the mystery of this universe. Dawn is the ultimate surprise: it awakens us to the immense 'thereness' of nature."
O'Donohue decribes dawn as a "threshold" time, with a touch of magic, even holiness, in the mysterious daily movement from dark to light. He then laments that "the urbanization of modern life has succeeded in exiling us from this fecund kinship with mother earth. We need to remain in rhythm with our inner clay voice and longing. Yet this voice is no longer audible in the modern world."
He's speaking in generalities, of course -- but on a personal, individual level, that needn't be true. Dawn was still a potent, fecund, creative time for me during the years when I lived in big cities, and I had my sunrise-places and rituals there too. In New York City, you'd find me and my notebooks at particular cafes with good strong coffee and a clear view of the lightening sky. In Boston, I'd be by the docks of Boston Harbor in my North End neighborhood, sometimes sitting on the rocks of Pilot House Park with cold bay water slapping below my feet, sometimes perched on the concrete rim of the outdoor seal pen at the old Aquarium (coffee in hand; books and notebooks weighting down my knapsack), sharing the first quiet hour of my day with the seals (who came to know me well) just as today I share it with young Tilly.
Magic, of course is everywhere, just as nature itself is everywhere; and even in the city dawn can be a time of wonder and inspiration.