My favourite time of day has changed with my advancing age. As a younger man I used to favour dawn. The breaking of the day, the slow creeping rise of the sun and all that happens before the golden orb seizes the day. The time of the slinking fox, returning from nocturnal mischief. The time when deer browse boldly far from the forest edge, cloaked in the morning mist. The time when the rabbits, having finished their nightly plunder of the barley shoots, sit plump and inviting outside the warren. Dawn is the time of the crows first foray. When the magpies and the croakers trawl the leafy lanes searching for last nights road-kills. Useful work, unpaid for by the County Council … but the only beneficial thing they’ll do all day
Now, as I hit three score, my crib holds such comfort that often the dawn chorus sounds better when heard through an open bedroom window. The art of writing has destroyed the daily ritual of my middle age; early to rise and early to bed. My writing peaks, in terms of mental agility, in the evening and so twilight has become my favourite time of day. That cusp between sundown and true night. The time when the final echoes of avian evensong fade from east to west, following the descent of the sun. That daily wonder for those with an ear for birdsong; a sonic wave ebbing towards the sunset.
Twilight also brings the pipistrelle bats. They pass close to my awning, hawking the gnats and mosquitos that dance above my bench-top lantern as I write. They swoop past the coach-light on the nearby wall with deft airborne dexterity. Beyond the garden, way out in the wood, the tawny owls often bless the rural soundscape. Sometimes it’s the females “keewick”, sometimes the males “whoo, whoo”; often both. A haunting, spectral sound … yet so enchanting.
An evening under the canopy, writing al fresco, will draw thousands of words from my chaotic mind and tap my memory. Citronella has become the scent of creativity as I scribble, surrounded by candles. Occasionally the rainfall will bless me with its hypnotic patter on the waterproof canopy. As raindrops glitter in the candle light and text flows onto the page, I am at my most relaxed. If I get ‘writers block’ I simply stop and oil the cogs with a glass of cabernet. If there’s a chill in the air, a fleece and the patio heater may come into play until the writing is done. I generally write freehand, with pencil and paper. The old fashioned way. It’s so much more artisan than using a laptop or tablet and, working outdoors, none of that ‘electricity’ stuff is needed. My scrawled transcripts are transferred by me later onto the iPad or PC.
Yep! Twilight is the time for me, for sure.
©Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, May 2016