Monday, September 16, 2013

September's Morning Mists

The morning mists blanket the farmlands in silence. In the distance a cow is lowing. Closer-by a horse whinnies. The goats in the field next to the last farm walk stiff-legged and sleepily about, in search of forage. They look up momentarily as the early wanderer passes them, then continue further undisturbed. His footsteps echo muffled on the cobbles. The sprightly tapping of his walking stick strikes the beat. Step tap step, step tap step, in flowing cadence.

The road in front of him lies as yet undiscovered; the village behind him still lies deeply at rest. This is the most beautiful hour of the day, when the damp night air with its purple-grey tints slowly makes way for the diffuse gold of the rising sun. When the spider webs heavy with dew hang glistening in the light of the new morning, and the majestic poplars along the road stand tall and silent above their own watery reflections.

The wanderer stands still and looks up to the crowns of the trees moving in the breeze, and he wonders aloud: 'How many others have you seen go by in their haste to be elsewhere, without once standing still.. without once even looking at you?' Again a cow lows - now closer-by, as if she urges the wanderer to go further. He nods thoughtfully to the poplars and walks on. The mist begins to evaporate in trailers, the light changes colour.  Slowly the deep black water is restored to its daylight blue. The ducks, still at rest, their heads tucked well away under their wings, are not aware of the wanderer. They lie in the wet grass. Not one is moving. When he returns along this road, he knows that they will be busy foraging. He grins aimiably.

A motor boat approaches. The muffled gurgle of the motor penetrates the stillness. The once-smooth water surface begins to ripple and wrinkle like the face of an old woman. Still there is nothing to see, but it doesn't take long before a figure looms out of the mist. With his cap pulled well-down above his eyes he calmly steers his boat, knowing that in spite of the mist his course is straight ahead. The skipper touches his cap with a finger by way of greeting. The wanderer lifts his walking stick in silent acknowledgement.

The boat leaves a ripple behind it on the water, and the crowns of the trees move with their reflections. He looks up again, the trees stand as directionless as before. But the man knows, while he stares at the water's surface, that they too were touched by the silent presence of the passing boat. 'That's the way it is.' he mutters. 'Each change finds it echo. Even the smallest movement makes a difference.'.

He walks on as he loosens the top button of his coat. It begins to feel a little warmer. The first rays of the sun take hesitating possession of the chill night that has stirred him so early. The light changes quickly now. Rays of sunlight fall across the revealed landscape, and the man sees a wider view of the world. The cows are no longer hidden in mists, the reeds comb the roots of the poplars that sigh in the soft breeze of morning. They also greet the sun in their own way. The man breathes in deeply, and throws his coat open, he stretches his arms and allows his walking stick to point upwards, towards the sun, towards the sky, towards the tops of the trees. He turns around in a circle and touches everything, to the farthest point.

The animals look at him, the cows chew the cud slowly, a horse whinnies and begins to trot. The ducks are awake and spatter around. Nature awakens, and each creature in the peaceful world is in its element.

The rest of the world is now also awake. A farmer drives past him on a tractor. The man wanders further, the sounds of the new day dominate his passing, and the magic is silently withdrawing in invisible haze.        


  1. So full of atmosphere, this story - and it's one of my favourites, Emma! It commands our focus, absorbes us with its simplicity, with the shared common experience to which we so readily can relate - that early morning magic hour, just before sunrise. The landscape described here is so typically Dutch - and yet wherever we are, in whatever country or clime, the casting of the pre-dawn spell is the same - and how vividly this story captures it!

  2. The story does seem to portray the typical Dutch countryside as Hawkwood has pointed out. Reading the story I really feel as if I am there! One of my favorite lines in the story is "The road in front of him lies as yet undiscovered..." Since what is around the corner is yet unseen there is a greater appreciation of the scenery that is before us. We are drawn to the beauty that resides in the moment we are in. I feel the story captures this brilliantly by describing the sights and sounds of the early morning as the mist slowly vanishes.

  3. It really does me good to have both of you joining me on my early morning walk! Thank you so much for walking beside me and sharing in the spell that the early morning casts on us wanderers.