Paper and Ink
Recommended Reading:

The Threshold Time

My little black familiar

Anam Cara by John O'Donohue

Following on from yesterday's discussion: Another thing that I love about notebooks is that they're so simple and so portable -- compared to lugging a laptop around, with its 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  in the woods behind the studio with a cup of coffee, a book, a pen, and a notebook (or two, or three).

Woodland's edge

"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."

Sun rising through the trees

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."

Morning sky  New York City

He's right that it's harder to hear our "clay voice" in cities...but it's not impossible, for the rhythms of nature, of seasons and moons and tides, move through urban life too.  Dawn was a potent, creative time for me all through my city years, and I had my sunrise-places and morning rituals there as well.

In New York, I favored particular cafes with good strong coffee, quiet music and a view of the sky -- notebooks and manuscripts spread on the table as the streets slowly lightened around me. 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 Tilly.

Magic, of course is everywhere, just as nature itself is everywhere; and daybreak is a time of enchantment wherever we are. The threshold time.

North End harbour, Boston

Seal friend

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