Insomnia – an old acquaintance. Lights on in some neighbouring houses tell me I’m not the only one who isn’t tucked up. I sit in the night-quiet living-room, sipping camomile tea, reading, hearing the ticking clock, waiting for my eyes to fall heavy. Hoping to get a couple of hours before dawn.
I go through phases of not sleeping. It’s been a lifelong problem, but has got worse with age. Getting to sleep is never the problem – it’s staying that way that’s the difficulty. It doesn’t help that I’m also a light sleeper. So at this time of year, the early dawns this far north can be a problem. As soon as light levels increase – that’s it I’m awake. Now the solstice has passed, it’s not quite so bad – at least I’m not awakened by birdsong and sunlight at three in the morning, as I am in June. There’s also the competing rooster situation. One does his cock-a-doodle-do and then the other has to reply – only louder. This can go on for some time.
But this morning was different. I was grateful to be awake early because at five o’clock, the re-appearance of the sun was gloriously underway. Our bedroom window faces due east and even while still in bed, I could see the band of pink and orange streaks widen and climb in the sky. I had to get up. I had to be outside and witness the sun appear above the horizon where the sky meets the waters of the Minch.
I grabbed a cardi and a pair of cosy socks to supplement my pyjamas – yes – I’m never less than glamorous – and stepped out into the morning. The garden birds hadn’t yet begun their dawn songs, only the odd scrabbling and scratching sound from the hedges gave away their presence. However the roosters were in full swing.
To begin with, the only visible colour was pinky-red. Grass and any blue or violet foliage remained black. Then full spectrum light gradually prismed and climbed overhead and everything regained its colour – although this early in the morning all the hues were muted.
When I turned to look at the western sky there was already a rainbow – and then came the unmistakable smell of moisture-laden air.
By six o’clock the sky was slate grey and the rain was serious. I went back to bed for a couple of hours – glad to have seen the best of the day.