The whole of phenomena seems to take on a particular feeling in the hour before dawn, and this is the hour in which I’m writing now. The temperature of the day is at its lowest and, even in tropical places, the air feels alive and new on your skin.
I am not in a tropical place now. I am in Manchester. However, it is here that I find the pre dawn hour most beguiling. Maybe it is because it is the hour of the day which I experience the least. If I am awake, it usually means that I’m a.) travelling b). not been to bed due to some adventure or other or c.) gotten so carried away by some creative endeavour that I’ve forgotten all about the normality of sleeping at night. In short, for me, being awake just before dawn usually means a break from the routine, and I love a break from the routine.
When I was in my early teens, I had a funny fortnight or two. It was during the springtime. I set my alarm to wake me early. I would climb up onto the rooftops, where I would station myself facing east. I could hear a milk float stopping and starting, clicking it’s brake on and off and quietly whirring its way around the streets below. This was the soundtrack to my waiting for the sunrise.
The mortar in the brickwork of the chimney stacks would slowly take on a radiant light as breaking of sunlight drew closer. Collared doves would, every now and then, purr and coo their unmistakable Morse code. Cu cooooooooo cu. Cu cooooooooo cu.
The light of the day would creep over the rooftops like water running off a mountain until it was finally daytime. Then I would climb back to earth, climb back into bed and fall back to sleep.