I once read a list of things you should try and do every year, or at least once in your life. The one that stuck in my mind was "watch the dawn". I realised I'd never done that. I had been awake as the sun rose (usually having been up all night) but I wasn't paying attention to it, it was just something happening in the periphery. I wasn't mindful of it. There's a huge difference between conversations going on around you, and taking part in the conversations.

The idea of watching the dawn excited me, but also created some fear. Let me state this now: I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. But I do love the outdoors, and natural scenes, and the idea of transitions. I remember the eureka moment as I read Plato's Republic over 20 years ago. It begins with Socrates returning home from a religious festival; it leads on to an all-night discussion about the nature of justice. The debate is finally wrapped up as the new day begins, and people 'see the light' - metaphor and situation overlap, form fits theme, and I was impressed at the way meaning can be layered into a work. With the dawn comes new understanding. That stuck in my mind.

Plus: I'm a bit of a hippy.

So on Saturday 21st December I decided I would see the dawn. I got up before 7am, made a flask of tea and a hot water bottle, wrapped up and walked up to the top of the Cefn Llan cemetery in the dark, sat down on the bench, and spent an hour watching the sky getting lighter, listening to the changing sounds and feeling the optimism of seeing a new thing coming into being, the feeling of being privileged, experiencing changes. A journey without leaving the bench. It was special to me, so I thought I'd share it. Photos are displayed in the order in which they were taken.

Aberystwyth, 7.16am

The moon. O serene Selene.

The first hint of light, 7.20am. Silhouettes of clouds faintly visible. 

Mmm, tea, 

I love these deep blues.
You can now differentiate between the clouds and the horizon.

The many cloud shapes were continually enthralling. 


Note that the horizon is starting to break up into different layers of hills.

Some photos seem darker because my phone tends to over- or under-contrast when trying to capture dark and light together. I chose under-contrast to capture the clouds, but it makes the land seem darker. 


The moon moves on. 7.53am.

Not the sunniest dawn ever, but the clouds were dramatic. 


8.09am. The moon has gone quite far in 16 minutes, using the central bare tree as a reference.


8.28am. The sun catching the tops of clouds. Seagulls soar.

8.29am. The cemetery from the bottom as I left.
After that I did an exercise class, then ran into town for a slap-up feast.

I love the transition from darkness. When I first arrived the main things you notice are artificial: streetlights, Christmas lights, the lights of cars coming over the brow of a hill. Gradually it is possible to make out huge dark clouds along the horizon in the direction the sun is rising, which looks like that is the horizon with all the strange shapes growing quickly. Not long after there was a change, and instead of the clouds being the dark thing and the horizon of the hills being invisible, it's now possible to see the horizon of the hills as darker, and the clouds fade to a more washed-out purple, so there's a transition between the clouds as the horizon and the real horizon. It brings to mind a transition between dreams and wakefulness, the clouds representing the dreams and the reality of the world represented by the physical horizon.