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autumn sunrise

Autumn. Six in the morning and I've been wide awake since four. Tried to reclaim sleep for a while then the rooster crowed around five and my thoughts turned to the sunrise. I haven't watched one in a while, since I lived near the ocean several years ago and worked every second week in the desert with 5am starts. I prefer sunrise over sunset; it is so beautiful and so fleeting, analogous to life.

With a coffee I came and sat in the garden. We are on a slope so I can see the ground fall away below me, the dam to my left and in front of me a tree, wearing her yellow autumn colours which are visible even in this still-dark of the morning.

For a while - too long - I look at my garden and start to plan. An entertaining area to my left that overlooks the dam. A small wall to carve out an area of flatness. Curves that skate around the contours, bringing a sense of order. Then I wipe the slate clean and try to keep it more natural with just grass, garden, no walls of stone...

The birds rouse me from my planning-girl reverie. Always the birds to hail sunrise and sunset. I try to imagine a world without them and decide I would not like to be in it. They are like an orchestra (or perhaps an orchestra is like the birds). There's one constant soloist call that underpins their cries, the occasional beat of the rooster's vocal drum, a bird in the distance that likes to echo him. And the melody over the top, totally disorganised which is what I love about it. Parrots, magpies, hundreds of birds I couldn't name all calling to the sun.

Underneath all of this excitement, the wind is rising too. I can hear the swoosh of air rushing across the land to tickle my hair against my face. It's a dance pushing the clouds around, drawing curtains aside to let in the daylight, boldly stampeding across the hills and finding ways to creep into my nightgown to raise goosebumps on my arms before taking off to new adventures. Noise, excitement, chaos, they are welcoming the sun and telling each other it's rising, just as they will farewell it this evening. The sound rises and rises as the sky becomes lighter.

I came out here for the visual splendour but I have found myself drawn instead into the world of sound. I turn my attention to the sky. The clouds above me take on a darker hue as the sky becomes brighter around them. The sky is turning pink, dashes of bright orange fleck the clouds, and a fan of sunrays dives up from behind the hill. Aside from the few gentle bird calls and the not-so-gentle rooster calls, it is quiet for a few moments..

From the calm arise more measured calls. A parrot of some kind says good morning. The ducks leave their beds and take to the pond with gentle plops - a satisfied sound. They quack happily, some fly up onto the fence for a look around at the new day and then fly down to the water to join their mates.

I hear a familiar thud and something moves from the shadows. It's a kangaroo and her joey. They take a couple of short jumps and stop to look at me. We have seen each other a number of times now and they know I will stay put, let them get on with their day. Mother and joey both eye me for a moment, sizing me up, then decide I am not a threat and move on to the back of the garden where there is wild grass and native trees. They live in the national park across the road but visit us often, I'm not sure why they do, but I enjoy their company.

Finally the crows awaken. So many people hate the sound of crows (actually ravens but the word crow is a better description). Compared to the warble of the magpie they sound like an old woman who has smoked her entire life, or like a cat in pain, or like something that is trying to die. But I love their aussie drawl, so sardonic, so nonchalant, with a sense of dry humour. To me they sound like warm summer afternoons from the richness of my childhood. They calm me.

Cheeky little magpies start picking their way across my lawn, I assume they are searching for worms. They appeared en-masse and are watching me as I write. Whether they are asking for permission to enter my garden or telling me off for being in theirs, I am not certain. They lose interest and wander along to find breakfast. Every few minutes a new birdcall dominates the soundscape, almost as though they are taking it in turns.

The dogs are awake now and the sky is orange and pink against a backdrop of pale blue. The clouds higher in the sky have gone from navy blue to white. The wind has returned, bringing gifts. I think it is pleased to have a witness. It wants me to smell the fragrance of the flowering trees in the national park, of the grass as it releases its perfume to the first delicate brushes of warmth. The wind is picking up heat from the sun and now I realise its purpose as a herald of the day; here is the grass, here is the hay, here are the flowers, here is the manure, here is the bark, here is the decay, here is the smoke from someone's fire, here is the world and all that gives it life.

It's daytime. My stomach grumbles. I take my empty coffee cup and my diary and head inside to begin the day.


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