How often do you get to (or have to) be awake for sunrise? Tell us about what happened the last time you were up so early (or late…
I don’t do dawn.
Yes, I know it’s magical: pure light spilling over in the ultimate promise of hope, and wonder unspoiled by human madness. But I’ve come to love the fierce brilliance of after-midnight stars, and the boundless possibility of our microcosmic existence in the face of infinity…
Or to cut the quasi-highfalutin waffle, I’m an evil old lady who stays up too late and sees dawn as a cruel intrusion on sleep. Or worse still, hears the kookaburras laughing as the sky begins to lighten, while the sun is still in its boudoir washing its face.
But once a year, I grit my teeth, set the alarm and face the dawn chorus. Boxing Day.
Once Christmas is over, I want to go home. NOW. Back to the surf, sun, sand and general torpor of summer in a small seaside town. But as every Australian knows, Boxing Day is the stupidest day you could possibly choose to travel. Every man and his dog, cat, bunny rabbit, wife, children, grandma and possibly next door neighbour, is on a mission to be somewhere else, wringing the last drop from their summer holiday. So out they come in their squillions, towing their caravans, roof-racks loaded, clogging the roads and stuffing the roadhouses to bursting while they hoover down hamburgers and chips and bottles of fizz guaranteed to make them queasy around hairpin bends. And since they’re most of them city drivers who know nothing about country driving, they hog the fast lane in the mistaken belief that they’re king of the road, and tailgate at 110 with reckless abandon.
So if I want to get home anytime soon – like in the usual 6 hours instead of 10 – I need to start while the novices are still fumbling through yesterday’s wrapping paper for their keys. Which means about 4.30am.
And yes, the dawn is beautiful.
But so are the midnight stars.