Here is my morning ritual: I get up and get dressed at an early hour, usually before the sun comes up. The house is quiet but for me and the pup, for my husband is a later riser than us and I cherish this morning solitude...when dreams, images, and ideas float to consciousness in the liminal space between sleep and wakefulness. I feed the pup; make coffee for me, pour it into a thermos, and head outside: to the studio, and the hillside beyond, where my day properly begins.
As we enter the woods, the pup and I, the pathway splits into three directions. Tilly, eager to race ahead, looks to me to know which one to take. In the past I would signal to her with my hand, but lately I'm trying to teach her in words: "Bees," I tell her when I mean the trail that runs near a place where old beehives are kept. "Woods," I say when I'm heading for a mossy perch in a circle of holly and oak. Or "Hill," I say. This third direction is Tilly's favorite one of all.
On the hill, we climb to an old iron bench overlooking the patchwork of Commons and fields, and the blue-grey slopes of the moorland beyond. In this season, the feathery fronds of the bracken are turning the hillside from green to rust.
A rising mist often swirls at this hour as I drink my coffee. (Italian roast. Strong.) Tilly prowls through the bracken, or grazes blackberries, or sits near my feet as the day slowly brightens. . . ears cocked, nose twitching, alert to each rustle of animal, wind, and spirit.
I've been getting up early since I was a girl, chasing sunrise and magic in the unlikeliest of landscapes. How I wish that young girl could sit here with me now; she would marvel to see just how far we have come. There she is: a flicker of a shadow on the hillside, by Tilly. There she is.
And then she's gone.